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Title: Ex Voto

Author: Samuel Butler

Release Date: May, 2003  [Etext #4073]
[Yes, we are about one year ahead of schedule]
[The actual date this file first posted = 11/07/01]

Edition: 10

Language: English

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The illustrations to this book are mainly collotype photographs by
Messrs. Maclure, Macdonald & Co., of Glasgow.  Notwithstanding all
their care, it cannot be pretended that the result is equal to what
would have been obtained from photogravure; I found, however, that to
give anything like an adequate number of photogravures would have
made the book so expensive that I was reluctantly compelled to
abandon the idea.

As these sheets leave my hands, my attention is called to a pleasant
article by Miss Alice Greene about Varallo, that appeared in The
Queen for Saturday, April 21, 1888.  The article is very nicely
illustrated, and gives a good idea of the place.  Of the Sacro Monte
Miss Greene says: --"On the Sacro Monte the tableaux are produced in
perpetuity, only the figures are not living, they are terra-cotta
statues painted and moulded in so life-like a way that you feel that,
were a man of flesh and blood to get mixed up with the crowd behind
the grating, you would have hard work to distinguish him from the
figures that have never had life."

I should wish to modify in some respects the conclusion arrived at on
pp. 148, 149, about Michael Angelo Rossetti's having been the
principal sculptor of the Massacre of the Innocents chapel.  There
can be no doubt that Rossetti did the figure which he has signed, and
several others in the chapel.  One of those which are probably by him
(the soldier with outstretched arm to the left of the composition)
appears in the view of the chapel that I have given to face page 144,
but on consideration I incline against the supposition of my text,
i.e., that the signature should be taken as governing the whole work,
or at any rate the greater part of it, and lean towards accepting the
external authority, which, quantum valeat, is all in favour of
Paracca.  I have changed my mind through an increasing inability to
resist the opinion of those who hold that the figures fall into two
main groups, one by the man who did the signed figure, i.e., Michael
Angelo Rossetti; and another, comprising all the most vigorous,
interesting, and best placed figures, that certainly appears to be by
a much more powerful hand.  Probably, then, Rossetti finished
Paracca's work and signed one figure as he did, without any idea of
claiming the whole, and believing that Paracca's predominant share
was too well known to make mistake about the authorship of the work
possible.  I have therefore in the title to the illustration given
the work to Paracca, but it must be admitted that the question is one
of great difficulty, and I can only hope that some other work of
Paracca's may be found which will tend to settle it.  I will
thankfully receive information about any other such work.

May 1, 1888.


Unable to go to Dinant before I published "Ex Voto," I have since
been there, and have found out a good deal about Tabachetti's family.
His real name was de Wespin, and he tame of a family who had been
Copper-beaters, and hence sculptors--for the Flemish copper-beaters
made their own models--for many generations.  The family seems to
have been the most numerous and important in Dinant.

The sculptor's grandfather, Perpete de Wespin, was the first to take
the sobriquet of Tabaguet, and though in the deeds which I have seen
at Namur the name is always given as "de Wespin," yet the addition of
"dit Tabaguet" shows that this last was the name in current use.  His
father and mother, and a sister Jacquelinne, under age, appear to
have all died in 1587.  Jean de Wespin, the sculptor, is mentioned in
a deed of that date as "expatrie," and he has a "gardien" or
"tuteur," who is to take charge of his inheritance, appointed by the
Court, as though he were for some reason unable to appoint one for
himself.  This lends colour to Fassola's and Torrotti's statement
that he lost his reason about 1586 or 1587.  I think it more likely,
however, considering that he was alive and doing admirable work some
fifty years after 1590, that he was the victim of some intrigue than
that he was ever really mad.  At any rate, about 1587 he appears to
have been unable to act for himself.

If his sister Jacquelinne died under age in 1587, Jean is not likely
to have been then much more than thirty, so we may conclude that he
was born about 1560.  There is some six or eight years' work by him
remaining at Varallo, and described as finished in the 1586 edition
of Caccia.  Tabachetti, therefore, must have left home very young,
and probably went straight to Varallo.  In 1586 or 1587 we lose sight
of him till 1590 or 1591, when he went to Crea, where he did about
forty chapels--almost all of which have perished.

On again visiting Milan I found in the Biblioteca Nazionale a guide-
book to the Sacro Monte, which was not in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana,
and of whose existence I had never heard.  This guide-book was
published in 1606 and reissued in 1610; it mentions all changes since
1590, and even describes chapels not yet in existence, but it says
nothing about Tabachetti's First Vision of St. Joseph chapel--the
only one of his chapels not given as completed in the 1590 edition of
Caccia.  I had assumed too hastily that this chapel was done just
after the 1590 edition of Caccia had been published, and just before
Tabachetti left for Crea in 1590 or 1591, whereas it now appears that
it was done about 1610, during a short visit paid by the sculptor to
Varallo some twenty years after he had left it.

Finding that Tabachetti returned to Varallo about 1610, I was able to
understand two or three figures in the Ecce Homo chapel which I had
long thought must be by Tabachetti, but had not ventured to ascribe
to him, inasmuch as I believed him to have finally left Varallo some
twenty years before the Ecce Homo chapel was made.  I have now no
doubt that he lent a hand to Giovanni D'Enrico with this chapel, in
which he has happily left us his portrait signed with a V (doubtless
standing for W, a letter which the Italians have not got), cut on the
hat before baking, and invisible from outside the chapel.

Signor Arienta had told me there was a seal on the back of a figure
in the Journey to Calvary chapel; on examining this I found it to
show a W, with some kind of armorial bearings underneath.  I have not
been able to find anything like these arms, of which I give a sketch
herewith:  they have no affinity with those of the de Wespin family,
unless the cups with crosses under them are taken as modifications of
the three-footed caldrons which were never absent from the arms of
Dinant copper-beaters.  Tabachetti (for I shall assume that the seal
was placed by him) perhaps sealed this figure as an afterthought in
1610, being unable to cut easily into the hard-baked clay, and if he
could have Italianised the W he would probably have done so.  I
should say that I arrived at the Ecce Homo figure as a portrait of
Tabachetti before I found the V cut upon the hat; I found the V on
examining the portrait to see if I could find any signature.  It
stands next to a second portrait of Leonardo da Vinci by Gaudenzio
Ferrari, taken into the Ecce Homo chapel, doubtless, on the
demolition of some earlier work by Gaudenzio on or near the same
site.  I knew of this second portrait of Leonardo da Vinci when I
published my first edition, but did not venture to say anything about
it, as thinking that one life-sized portrait of a Leonardo da Vinci
by a Gaudenzio Ferrari was as much of a find at one time as my
readers would put up with.  I had also known of the V on Tabachetti's
hat, but, having no idea that his name was de Wespin, had not seen
why this should help it to be a portrait of Tabachetti, and had
allowed the fact to escape me.

The figure next to Scotto in the Ecce Homo chapel is, I do not doubt,
a portrait of Giovanni D'Enrico.  This may explain the tradition at
Varallo that Scotto is Antonio D'Enrico, which cannot be.  Next to
Giovanni D'Enrico stands the second Leonardo da Vinci, and next to
Leonardo, as I have said, Tabachetti.  In the chapel by Gaudenzio,
from which they were taken, the figures of Leonardo and Scotto
probably stood side by side as they still do in the Crucifixion
chapel.  I supposed that Tabachetti and D'Enrico, who must have
perfectly well known who they were, separated them in order to get
Giovanni D'Enrico nearer the grating.  It was the presumption that we
had D'Enrico's portrait between Scotto and Leonardo, and the
conviction that Tabachetti also had worked in the chapel, that led me
to examine the very beautiful figure on the father side of Leonardo
to see if I could find anything to confirm my suspicion that it was a
portrait of Tabachetti himself.

I do not think there can be much doubt that the Vecchietto is also a
portrait of Tabachetti done some thirty years later than 1610, nor
yet do I doubt, now I know that he returned to Varallo in 1610, that
the figures of Herod and of Caiaphas are by him.  I believe he also
at this time paid a short visit to Orta, and did three or four
figures in the left hand part of the foreground of the Canonisation
of St. Francis chapel.  At Montrigone, a mile or so below Borgo-Sesia
station, I believe him to have done at least two or three figures,
which are very much in his manner, and not at all like either Giacomo
Ferro or Giovanni D'Enrico, to whom they are usually assigned.  These
figures are some twenty-five years later than 1610, and tend to show
that Tabachetti, as an old man of over seventy, paid a third visit to
the Val-Sesia.

The substance of the foregoing paragraphs is published at greater
length, and with illustrations, in the number of the Universal Review
for November 1888, and to which I must refer my readers.  I have,
however, here given the pith of all that I have yet been able to find
out about Tabachetti since "Ex Voto" was published.  I should like to
add the following in regard to other chapels.

Signor Arienta has found a 1523 scrawled on the frescoes of the
Crucifixion chapel.  I do not think this shows necessarily that the
work was more than begun at that date.  He has also found a monogram,
which we believe to be Gaudenzio Ferrari's, on the central shield
with a lion on it, given in the illustration facing p. 210.  On
further consideration, I feel more and more inclined to think that
the frescoes in this chapel have been a good deal retouched.

I hardly question that the Second Vision of St. Joseph chapel is by
Tabachetti, as also the Woman of Samaria.  The Christ in this last
chapel is a restoration.  In a woodcut of 1640 the position of the
figures is reversed, but nothing more than the positions.

Lastly, the Virgin's mother does not have eggs east of Milan.  It is
a Valsesian custom to give eggs beaten up with wine and sugar to
women immediately on their confinement, and I am told that the eggs
do no harm though not according to the rules.  I am told that
Valsesian influence must always be suspected when the Virgin's mother
is having eggs.

November 30, 1888.

Note.--A copy of this postscript can be easily inserted into a bound
copy, and will be forwarded by Messrs. TRUBNER & Co. on receipt of
stamped and addressed envelope.


In the preface to "Alps and Sanctuaries" I apologised for passing
over Varallo-Sesia, the most important of North Italian sanctuaries,
on the ground that it required a book to itself.  This book I will
now endeavour to supply, though well aware that I can only
imperfectly and unworthily do so.  To treat the subject in the detail
it merits would be a task beyond my opportunities; for, in spite of
every endeavour, I have not been able to see several works and
documents, without which it is useless to try and unravel the earlier
history of the sanctuary.  The book by Caccia, for example, published
by Sessali at Novara in 1565, and reprinted at Brescia in 1576, is
sure to turn up some day, but I have failed to find it at Varallo,
Novara (where it appears in the catalogue, but not on the shelves),
Milan, the Louvre, the British Museum, and the Bodleian Library.
Through the kindness of Sac. Ant. Ceriani, I was able to learn that
the Biblioteca Ambrosiana possessed what there can be little doubt is
a later edition of this book, dated 1587, but really published at the
end of 1586, and another dated 1591, to which Signor Galloni in his
"Uomini e fatti celebri di Valle-Sesia" (p. 110) has called attention
as the first work ever printed at Varallo.  But the last eight of the
twenty-one years between 1565 and 1586 were eventful, and much could
be at once seen by a comparison of the 1565, 1576, and 1586 [1587]
editions, about which speculation is a waste of time while the
earlier works are wanting.  I have been able to gather two or three
interesting facts by a comparison of the 1586 and 1591 editions, and
do not doubt that the date, for example, of Tabachetti's advent to
Varallo and of his great Calvary Chapel would be settled within a
very few years if the missing books were available.

Another document which I have in vain tried to see is the plan of the
Sacro Monte as it stood towards the close of the sixteenth century,
made by Pellegrino Tibaldi with a view to his own proposed
alterations.  He who is fortunate enough to gain access to this plan-
-which I saw for a few minutes in 1884, but which is now no longer at
Varallo--will find a great deal made clear to him which he will
otherwise be hardly able to find out.  Over and above the foregoing,
there is the inventory drawn up by order of Giambattista Albertino in
1614, and a number of other documents, to which reference will be
found in the pages of Bordiga, Galloni, Tonetti, and of the many
others who have written upon the Val Sesia and its history.  A twelve
months' stay in the Val Sesia would not suffice to do justice to all
the interesting and important questions which arise wholesale as soon
as the chapels on the Sacro Monte are examined with any care.  I
shall confine myself, therefore, to a consideration of the most
remarkable features of the Sacro Monte as it exists at present, and
to doing what I can to stimulate further study on the part of others.

I cannot understand how a field so interesting, and containing
treasures in so many respects unrivalled, can have remained almost
wholly untilled by the numerous English lovers of art who yearly
flock to Italy; but the fact is one on which I may perhaps be
congratulated, inasmuch as more shortcomings and errors of judgment
may be forgiven in my own book, in virtue of its being the first to
bring Varallo with any prominence before English readers.  That
little is known about the Sacro Monte, even by the latest and best
reputed authorities on art, may be seen by turning to Sir Henry
Layard's recent edition of Kugler's "Handbook of Painting,"--a work
which our leading journals of culture have received with acclamation.
Sir Henry Layard has evidently either never been at Varallo, or has
so completely forgotten what he saw there that his visit no longer
counts.  He thinks, for example, that the chapels, or, as he also
calls them, "stations" (which in itself should show that he has not
seen them), are on the way up to the Sacro Monte, whereas all that
need be considered are on the top.  He thinks that the statues
generally in these supposed chapels "on the ascent of the Sacro
Monte" are attributed to Gaudenzio Ferrari, whereas it is only in two
or three out of some five-and-forty that any statues are believed to
be by Gaudenzio.  He thinks the famous sculptor Tabachetti--for
famous he is in North Italy, where he is known--was a painter, and
speaks of him as "a local imitator" of Gaudenzio, who "decorated"
other chapels, and "whose works only show how rapidly Gaudenzio's
influence declined and his school deteriorated."  As a matter of
fact, Tabachetti was a Fleming and his name was Tabaquet; but this is
a detail.  Sir Henry Layard thinks that "Miel" was also "a local
imitator" of Gaudenzio.  It is not likely that this painter ever
worked on the Sacro Monte at all; but if he did, Sir Henry Layard
should surely know that he came from Antwerp.  Sir Henry Layard does
not appear to know that there are any figures in the Crucifixion
Chapel of Gaudenzio, or indeed in any of the chapels for which
Gaudenzio painted frescoes, and falls into a trap which seems almost
laid on purpose for those who would write about Varallo without
having been there, in supposing that Gaudenzio painted a Pieta on the
Sacro Monte.  Having thus displayed the ripeness of his knowledge as
regards facts, he says that though the chapels "on the ascent of the
Sacro Monte" are "objects of wonder and admiration to the innumerable
pilgrims who frequent this sacred spot," yet "the bad taste of the
colour and clothing make them highly repugnant to a cultivated eye."

I begin to understand now how we came to buy the Blenheim Raffaelle.

Finally, Sir Henry Layard says it is "very doubtful" whether any of
the statues were modelled or executed by Gaudenzio Ferrari at all.
It is a pity he has not thought it necessary give a single reason or
authority in support of a statement so surprising.

Some of these blunders appear in the edition of 1874 edited by Lady
Eastlake.  In that edition the writer evidently knows nothing of any
figures in the Crucifixion Chapel, and Sir Henry Layard was unable to
supply the omission.  The writer in the 1874 edition says that
"Gaudenzio is seen as a modeller of painted terra-cotta in the
stations ascending to the chapel (sic) on the Sacro Monte."  It is
from this source that Sir Henry Layard got his idea that the chapels
are on the way up to the Sacro Monte, and that they are distinct from
those for which Gaudenzio painted frescoes on the top of the
mountain.  Having perhaps seen photographs of the Sacro Monte at
Varese, where the chapels climb the hill along with the road, or
having perhaps actually seen the Madonna del Sasso at Locarno, where
small oratories with frescoes of the Stations of the Cross are placed
on the ascent, he thought those at Varallo might as well remain on
the ascent also, and that it would be safe to call them "stations."
It is the writer in the 1874 edition who first gave him or her self
airs about a cultivated eye; but he or she had the grace to put in a
saving clause to the effect that the designs in some instances were
"full of grace."  True, Sir Henry Layard has never seen the designs;
nevertheless his eye is too highly cultivated to put up with this
clause; so it has disappeared, to make room, I suppose, for the
sentence in which so much accurate knowledge is displayed in respect
to Tabachetti and Miel d'Anvers.  Sir Henry Layard should keep to the
good old plan of saying that the picture would have been better if
the artist had taken more pains, and praising the works of Pietro
Perugino.  Personally, I confess I am sorry he has never seen the
Sacro Monte.  If he has trod on so many ploughshares without having
seen Varallo, what might he not have achieved in the plenitude of a
taste which has been cultivated in every respect save that of not
pretending to know more than one does know, if he had actually been
there, and seen some one or two of the statues themselves?

I have only sampled Sir Henry Layard's work in respect of two other
painters, but have found no less reason to differ from him there than
here.  I refer to his remarks about Giovanni and Gentile Bellini.  I
must reserve the counter-statement of my own opinion for another
work, in which I shall hope to deal with the real and supposed
portraits of those two great men.  I will, however, take the present
opportunity of protesting against a sentence which caught my eye in
passing, and which I believe to be as fundamentally unsound as any I
ever saw written, even by a professional art critic or by a director
of a national collection.  Sir Henry Layard, in his chapter on
Leonardo da Vinci, says -

"One thing prominently taught us by the works of Leonardo and
Raffaelle, of Michael Angelo and Titian, is distinctly this--that
purity of morals, freedom of institutions, and sincerity of faith
have nothing to do with excellence in art."

I should prefer to say, that if the works of the four artists above
mentioned show one thing more clearly than another, it is that
neither power over line, nor knowledge of form, nor fine sense of
colour, nor facility of invention, nor any of the marvellous gifts
which three out of the four undoubtedly possessed, will make any
man's work live permanently in our affections unless it is rooted in
sincerity of faith and in love towards God and man.  More briefly, it
is [Greek text which cannot be reproduced], or the spirit, and not
[Greek text which cannot be reproduced], or the letter, which is the
soul of all true art.  This, it should go without saying, applies to
music, literature, and to whatever can be done at all.  If it has
been done "to the Lord"--that is to say, with sincerity and freedom
from affectation--whether with conscious effusion, as by Gaudenzio,
or with perhaps robuster unconsciousness, as by Tabachetti, a halo
will gather round it that will illumine it though it pass through the
valley of the shadow of death itself.  If it has been done in self-
seeking, as, exceptis excipiendis, by Leonardo, Titian, Michael
Angelo, and Raffaelle, it will in due course lose hold and power in
proportion to the insincerity with which it was tainted.


Leaving Sir Henry Layard, let us turn to one of the few English
writers who have given some attention to Varallo--I mean to the Rev.
S. W. King's delightful work "The Italian Valleys of the Pennine
Alps."  This author says -

"When we first visited Varallo, it was comparatively little known to
travellers, but we now found that of late years many more had
frequented it, and its beautiful scenery and great attractions were
becoming more generally and deservedly appreciated.  Independently of
its own picturesque situation, and its advantages as head-quarters
for exploring the neighbouring Vals and their romantic scenery, the
works which it possesses of the ancient and famous Val Sesian school
of painters and modellers are most interesting.  At the head of them
stands first and foremost Gaudenzio Ferrari, whose original and
masterly productions ought to be far more widely known and studied
than they as yet are; and some of the finest of them are to be found
in the churches and Sacro Monte of Varallo" (p. 498).

Of the Sacro Monte the same writer says -

"No situation could have been more happily chosen for the purpose
intended than the little mountain rising on the north of Varallo to a
height of about 270 feet"--[this is an error; the floor of the church
on the Sacro Monte is just 500 feet above the bridge over the
Mastallone]--"on which the chapels, oratories, and convents of that
extraordinary creation the New Jerusalem are grouped together.
Besides the beauty of the site and its convenient proximity to a town
like Varallo of some 3000 inhabitants, the character of the mountain
is exactly adapted for the effective disposition of the various
'stations' of which it consists"--[it does not consist of
"stations"]--"and on this account chiefly it was selected by the
founder, the 'Blessed Bernardino Caimo.'  A Milanese of noble family,
and Vicar of the Convent of the Minorites in Milan, and also in
connection with that of Varallo, he was specially commissioned by
Pope Sixtus IV. to visit the Sepulchre and other holy places in
Palestine, and while there took the opportunity of making copies and
drawings, with the intention of erecting a facsimile of them in his
native country.  On his return to Italy in 1491, after examining all
the likely sites within reasonable distance of Milan, he found the
conical hills of the Val Sesia the best adapted for his design, and
fixed upon Varallo as the spot; being probably specially attracted to
it from the fact of the convent and church of Sta. Maria delle
Grazie, already described, having been conveyed through him to the
'Minori Osservanti,' as appears from a brief of Innocent VIII., dated
December 21, 1486."

Mr. King does not give the source from which he derived his knowledge
of the existence of this act, and I have not come across a notice of
it elsewhere, except a brief one in Signor Galloni's work (p. 71),
and a reference to it in the conveyance of April 14, 1493.  But
Signor Arienta of Varallo, whose industry in collecting materials for
a history of the Sacro Monte cannot be surpassed, showed me a
transcript from an old plan of the church of S. Maria delle Grazie,
in which the inscription on Bernardino Caimi's grave was given--an
inscription which (so at least I understood Signor Arienta to say) is
now covered by an altar which had been erected on the site of the
grave.  The inscription ran:-

"Hic quiescunt ossa B. Bernardini Caimis Mediolan.  S. Montis Varalli
Fundatoris An. 1486.  Pontif. Dipl sub die 21 Xbris.  Mortuus est
autem in hoc coenobio An. Vulg. AErae 1499."

It would thus appear that the Sacro Monte was founded four years
earlier than the received date.  The formal deed of conveyance of the
site on the mountain from the town to Bernardino Caimi was not signed
till the 14th of April 1493; but the work had been already commenced,
as is shown by the inscription still remaining over the reproduction
of the Holy Sepulchre, which is dated the 17th of October 1491.
Probably the work was contemplated in 1486, and interrupted by B.
Caimi's return to Jerusalem in 1487, not to be actively resumed till

"The first stone," says Mr. King, "was laid by Scarognini, a Milanese
'magnifico,' who cordially entered into the scheme; and at his
expense the Holy Sepulchre was completed, and a hospice attached,
where the founder and a number of Franciscan brothers came to reside
in 1493.  Caimo had planned a vast extension of this commencement,
but died within three years, leaving his designs to be carried out by
his successors."

. . .

"Each oratory contains a group--in some very numerous--of figures
modelled in terra-cotta the size of life or larger; many of them of
great merit as works of art, others very inferior and mere rubbish.
The figures are coloured and occasionally draped with appropriate
clothing, the resemblance to life being heightened by the addition of
human hair"--[which, by the way, is always horse-hair]--"and the
effect is often very startling.  Each chapel represents a different
'mystery,' and, beside the modelled figures, the walls are decorated
with frescoes.  The front of each is open to the air, all but a wire
grating, through apertures in which the subject may be perfectly seen
in the position intended by the designer" (pp. 510-512).

Mr. King says, correctly, that Gaudenzio's earliest remaining work on
the Sacro Monte is the Chapel of the Pieta, that originally contained
the figures of Christ bearing the cross, but from which the modelled
figures were removed, others being substituted that had no connection
with the background.  I do not know, however, that Christ was
actually carrying the cross in the chapel as it originally stood.
The words of the 1587 edition of Caccia (?) stand, "Come il N.S. fu
spogliato de suoi panni, e condotto sopra il Monte Calvario, ch' e
fatto di bellissimo e ben inteso relievo."

"The frescoes on the wall," he continues, "are particularly
interesting, as having been painted by him at the early age of
nineteen"--[Mr. King supposes Gaudenzio Ferrari to have been born in
1484]--"when his ambition to share in the glory and renown of the
great work was gratified by this chapel being intrusted to him; a
proof of his early talent and the just appreciation of it.  The
frescoes are much injured, but of the chief one there is enough to
show its excellence.  On one side is St. John, with clasped hands
gazing upwards in grief, and the two Marys sorrowing, as a soldier in
the centre seems to forbid their following further; his helmet is
embossed and gilt as in the instances in the Franciscan church, while
the two thieves are led bound by a figure on horseback."

These frescoes appear to me to have been not so much restored as
repainted--that is to say, where they are not almost entirely gone.
The green colour that now prevails in the shadows and half-tones is
alien to Gaudenzio, and cannot be accepted as his.  I should say,
however, that my friend Signor Arienta of Varallo differs from me on
this point.  At any rate, the work is now little more than a ruin,
and the terra-cotta Pieta is among the least satisfactory groups on
the Sacro Monte.  Mr. King continues:-

"In the Chapel of the Adoration of the Magi we have a work of higher
merit, giving evidence of his studies under Raphael."

Here Mr. King is in some measure mistaken.  The frescoes in the Magi
Chapel are indeed greatly finer than those in the present Pieta, but
they were painted from thirty to forty years later, when Gaudenzio
was in his prime, and it is to years of intervening incessant effort
and practice, not to any study under Raphael, that the enlargement of
style and greater freedom of design is due.  Gaudenzio never studied
under Raphael; he may have painted for him, and perhaps did so--no
one knows whether he did or did not--but in every branch of his art
he was incomparably Raphael's superior, and must have known it
perfectly well.

Returning to Mr. King, with whom, in the main, I am in cordial
sympathy, we read:-

"The group of ten figures in terra-cotta represents the three kings
just arrived with their immediate attendants, and alighting at the
door of an inner recess, where a light burns over the manger of
Bethlehem, and in which is a simple but exquisite group of St.
Joseph, the Virgin, and Child.  On the walls of the chapel are
painted in fresco a crowd of followers, the varieties of whose
costumes, attitudes, and figures are most cleverly portrayed.  In
modelling the horses which form part of the central group, Ferrari
was assisted by his pupil Fermo Stella."--[Fermo Stella is not known
to have been a pupil of Gaudenzio's, and was probably established as
a painter before Gaudenzio began to work at all.]--"But the greatest
of all Gaudenzio's achievements is the large chapel of the
Crucifixion, a work of the most extraordinary character and masterly
execution.  His first design for the subject, on the screen of the
Minorite Church, he has here carried out in life-like figures in
terra-cotta; twenty-six of which form the centre group, embodying the
events of the Passion; while round the walls are depicted with
wonderful power a crowd of spectators, numbering some 150, most of
whom are gazing at the central figure of the Saviour on the cross.
The variety of expression, costume, and character is almost infinite.
Round the roof are twenty angels in the most varied and graceful
attitudes, deserving of special attention; and also a hideous figure
of Lucifer."

Gaudenzio's devils are never quite satisfactory.  His angels are
divine, and no one can make them cry as he does.  When my friend Mr.
H. Festing Jones met a lovely child crying in the streets of Varallo
last summer, he said it was crying like one of Gaudenzio's angels;
and so it was.  Gaudenzio was at home with everything human, and even
superhuman, if beautiful; if it was only a case of dealing with ugly,
wicked, and disagreeable people, he knew all about this, and could
paint them if the occasion required it; but when it came to a
downright unmitigated devil, he was powerless.  He could never have
done Tabachetti's serpent in the Adam and Eve Chapel, nor yet the
plausible fair-spoken devil, as in the Temptation Chapel, also by

To conclude my extracts from Mr. King.  Speaking of the Crucifixion
Chapel, he says:-

"Though this combination of terra-cotta and fresco may not be as
highly esteemed in the present day as in the times when this
extraordinary sanctuary sprang into existence, yet this composition
must always be admired as one of the greatest of Ferrari's works, and
undoubtedly that on which he lavished the full force of his genius
and the collected studies and experience of his previous artist

It is noteworthy, but not perhaps surprising, that this observant,
intelligent, and sympathetic writer, probably through inability to at
once understand and enter into the conventions rendered necessary by
the conditions under which works so unfamiliar to him must be both
executed and looked at, has failed to notice the existence of
Tabachetti, never mentioning his name nor referring to one of his
works--not even to the Madonna and Child in the church of S.
Gaudenzio, which one would have thought could hardly fail to strike

* * *

Mr. King has elsewhere in his work referred both to Lanzi and to
Lomazzo in support of his very high opinion of Gaudenzio Ferrari; it
may, therefore, be as well to give extracts from each of these
writers.  Lanzi says:-

"If we examine into further particulars of his style, we shall find
Ferrari's warm and lively colouring so superior to that of the
Milanese artists of his day, that we shall have no difficulty in
recognising it in the churches where he painted; the eye of the
spectator is directly attracted towards it; his carnations are
natural and varied according to his subjects; his draperies display
much fancy and originality, with middle tints blended so skilfully as
to equal the most beautiful produced by any other artist.  And, if we
may say so,--he succeeded in representing the minds even better than
the forms of his subjects.  He particularly studied this branch of
the art, and we seldom observe more marked attitudes or more
expressive . . . As Lomazzo, however, has dwelt so much at length on
his admirable skill both in painting and modelling, it would be idle
to insist on it further.  But I ought to add that it is a great
reflection upon Vasari that he did not better know or better estimate
such an artist; so that foreigners who form their opinions only from
history are left unacquainted with his merit, and have uniformly
neglected to do him justice in their writings."

Lomazzo says:-

"Now amongst the worthy painters who excelled herein, Raph. Urbine
was not the least who performed his workes with a divine kind of
maiesty; neither was Polidore"--[Polidoro Caldara da Caravaggio]--
"much behind him in his kinde, whose pictures seemed as it were
passing furious; nor yet Andreas Mantegna, whose vaine showed a very
laborious curiositie; nor yet Leonard Vincent"--[Leonardo da Vinci]--
"in whose doings there was never any error found in this point.
Wherof amongst all other of his works, that admirable last supper of
Christ in Refect. S. Maria de Gratia in Milane maketh most evident
proofe, in which he hath so lively expressed the passions of the
Apostles mindes in their countenances and the rest of their bodies,
that a man may boldly say the truth was nothing superior to his
representation, and neede not be afraide to reckon it among the best
works of oyle-painting (of which kind of painting John de Bruges was
the first inventor).  For in those Apostles you might distinctly
perceive admiration, feare, griefe, suspition, love, &c.; all which
were sometimes to be seen together in one of them, and finally in
Judas a treason-plotting countenance, as it were the very true
counterfiet of a traitor.  So that therein he has left a sufficient
argument of his rare perfection, in the true understanding of the
passions of the mind exemplified outwardly in the bodie.  Which
because it is the most necessary part of painting, I purpose (as I
say) to handle in this present booke.  I may not omit Mi. Angelo in
any case, whose skill and painfulnesse in this point was so greate,
that his pictures carry with them more hard motions expressed after
an unusual manner, but all of them tending to a certaine bould
stoutnesse.  And as for Titian, he hath worthely purchased the name
of a great painter in this matter, as his pictures do sufficiently
witness; in each whereof there shineth a certain mooving vertue,
seeming to incite the beholder unto the imitation thereof.  Of whom
this saying may well be verified, that he was beloved of the world
and envied of nature.

"Finally, mine old Master Gaudentius (though he be not much knowne)
was inferior unto fewe, in giving the apt motions to the Saintes and
Angels; who was not onely a very witty painter (as I have elsewhere
showed), but also a most profound philosopher and mathematician.
Amongst all whose all-praiseworthy workes (which are almost infinite,
especially in this point of motion) there are divers mysteries of
Christe's passion, of his doing, but chiefly a crucifix called Mount
Calvary at the Sepulchre of Varallo; where he hath made admirable
horses and strange angels, not only in painting, but also in
plasticke, of a kinde of earth wrought most curiously with his own
hand cleane rounde"--[di tutto rilievo]--"through all the figures.

"Besides in the vault of the Chappell of S. Mary de Gratia in Milane
he hath wrought most naturall angels, I meane especially for their
actions; there is also that mighty cube of St. Mary de Serono, the
Cupola of S. Maria at Saronno, full of thrones of angells set out
with actions and habites of all sortes, carrying diversity of most
strange instruments in their hands.  I may not conceal that goodly
chapel which he made in his latter time, in the Church of Peace in
Milan, where you shall find small histories of our Lady and Joachime
showing such superexcellent motions that they seem much to revive and
animate the spectators.

"Moreover, the story of S. Roccho done by him in Vercelli, with
divers workes in that city; although indeede almost all Lombardy be
adorned with his most rare workes, I will not conceal one saying,
which was that all painters delight to steale other men's inventions,
but that he himself was in no great danger of being detected of theft
hereafter.  Now this great painter, although in reason he might for
his discretion, wisedome, and worth be compared with the above named
in the first booke, cap. 29, yet notwithstanding is he omitted by
George Vasary in his lives of the famous painters, carvers, and
architects.  An argument, to say no worse of him, that he intended to
eternise only his own Tuscanes.  But I proceede to the unfoulding of
the originall causes of these motions.  And first for our better
understanding I will beginne with those passions of the mind whereby
the body is mooved to the performance of his particular effects"
(Id., Book ii. pp. 7, 8).

What Gaudenzio said was that all painters were fond of stealing, but
that they were pretty sure to be found out sooner or later.

For my own part, I should like to say that I prefer Giovanni Bellini
to Gaudenzio; but unless Giotto and Giorgione, I really do not know
who the Italian painters should stand before him.  Bernardino Luini
runs him close, but great as Bernardino Luini was, Gaudenzio, in
spite of not a little mannerism, was greater.

The passage above referred to by Lomazzo as from his twenty-ninth
chapter runs:-

"Now if any man be desirous to learne the most exact and smallest
parts of these proportions, together with the way how to transfer
them from one body to another, I refer him to the works of Le.
Vincent, Bramante, Vincentius Foppa, Barnard Zenale; and for prints
to Albert Durer, Hispill Peum, &c.  And out of mine owne workes he
may gather that I have endeavoured if not performed these
proportions, done according to these rules; which all the best and
famous painters of our time have likewise observed; who have also
attained to the exquisite proportions of the seven planets.  Amongst
whom Mi. Angelo hath merited the chiefest commendation; next him
Raph. Urbine was famous for making of delicate and Venereall bodies;
Leon. Vincent for expressing of solary bodies; Polidore Caldara of
Caravaggio for Martiall bodies; Titianus Vecellino for Lunaryes; and
Gaudentius Ferrato da Valdugia a Milaner for Jovialistes" (55 Bk. i.
p. 117).

Having been compelled to look through the greater part of Lomazzo's
work, inasmuch as not one of the several writers who have referred to
his high opinion of Gaudenzio has given chapter and page, I would
fain allow myself to linger somewhat in the fascinating paths into
which my subject has led me.  I should like to call further attention
to this forgotten work as "Englished" by one Richard Haydocke,
"Student in Physik," and dedicated to no less a person than "to the
Right Worshipful Thomas Bodley, Esq.," whose foundation of the
library that bears his name is referred to in the preface.  Gladly
would I tell him about Alexander the Great, who, being overmatched by
his enemies in India, "was seen to reake forth from his bodie fier
and light;" and of the father of Theodoricus, who, "by the like
vehement effect, breathed out of his heart, as from a burning
furnace, fierce sparkels; which flying forth, shone, and made a sound
in the aire."  I should like to explain to him about the motions of
the seven planets which are the seven governours of the world, and
how Saturn "causeth a complexion of colour between blacke and
yeallowe, meager, distorted, of an harde skinne, eminent vaines, an
hairie bodie, small eies, eie brows joyned together &c.," and how "he
maketh a man subtle, wittie, a way-layer, and murtherer;" how, again,
Jupiter is "magnipotent, good natured, fortunate, sweete, pleasant,
the best wel-willer, honest, neate, of a good gate, honorable, the
author of mirth and judgement, wise, true, the revealer of truth, the
chiefe judge, exceeding all the planets in goodnesse, the bestower of
riches and wisedome;" how Mars "broaches bould spirites, bloud,
brawles and all disordered, inconsiderate, and headdy actions;" how
"his gestures are terrible, cruell, fierce, angry, proude, hasty and
violent," and how also "he is reputed hoat and drie in the highest
degree, bearing sway over redde choler."  I should like to tell him
about the passions, actions, and the gestures they occasion,
described as they are with a sweet and silly unreasonableness that is
very charming to read, and makes no demand whatever upon the
understanding.  But charming as are the pages of Lomazzo, those of
Torrotti are more charming still, and they have a connection with our
subject which Lomazzo's have not.  Enough, therefore, that Mr.
Haydocke did not get through more than half Lomazzo's treatise, and
that, glancing over the untranslated pages, I see frequent allusions
to Gaudenzio in the warmest terms, but no passage so important as the
longer of the two quoted above.


Now that Varallo can be easily reached by the new railway from
Novara, it is not likely to remain so little known much longer.  The
town is agreeable to stay in; it contains three excellent inns.  I
name them in geographical order.  They are the Italia, the Croce
Bianca, and the Posta, while there is another not less excellent on
the Sacro Monte itself.  I have stayed at all these inns, and have
received so much kindness in each of them, that I must decline the
invidious task of recommending any one of them especially.  My book
is intended for Varallo, and not for this or that hotel.  The
neighbourhood affords numberless excursions, all of them full of
interest and beauty; the town itself, though no exception to the rule
that the eastern cities of North Italy are more beautiful than the
western, is still full of admirable subjects for those who are fond
of sketching.  The people are hospitable to a fault; personally, I
owe them the greatest honour that has ever been conferred upon me--an
honour far greater than any I have ever received among those who know
me better, and are probably better judges of my deserts.  The climate
is healthy, the nights being cool even in the height of summer, and
the days almost invariably sunny and free from fog in winter.  With
all these advantages, therefore, it is not easy to understand the
neglect that has befallen it, except on the ground that until lately
it has been singularly difficult of access.

Two hundred years ago it must have been much as it is at present.
Turning to the work of the excellent Canon Torrotti, published in
1686, I find he writes as follows:-

"Oh, what fannings is there not here," he exclaims, "of the assiduous
Zephyrs; what warmth in winter, what gelidness of the air in summer;
and what freaks are there not of Nature by way of caves, grottoes,
and delicious chambers hewn by her own hand.  Here can be enjoyed
wines of the very finest flavour, trout as dainty as can be caught in
any waters, game of the most singular excellence; in short, there is
here a great commodity of everything most sensual and pleasing to the
palate.  And of those who come here, above all I must praise the
Piedmontese, who arrive in frequent cavalcades of from twenty to
five-and-twenty people, to an edification which is beyond all praise;
and they are munificent in the gifts they leave behind them to the
Holy Place--not resembling those who are mean towards God though they
will spend freely enough upon their hotel-bill.  Carriages of all
sorts can be had here easily; it is the Milanese who for the most
part make use of these carriages and equipages, for they are pompous
and splendid in their carryings on.  From elsewhither processions
arrive daily, even from Switzerland, and there are sometimes as many
as ten thousand visitors extraordinary come here in a single day, yet
is there no hindrance but they find comfortable lodging, and at very
reasonable prices.

 "As for the distance, it is about sixty miles, or two easy days'
journey from Milan; it is much the same from Turin; it is one day
from Novara, and one from Vercelli; but the most delightful thing
about this journey is that you can combine so many other devotions
along with it.  In the Milanese district, for example, there is the
mountain of Varese, and that of S. Carlo of Arona on the Lago
Maggiore; and there are S. Francesco and S. Giulio on the Lago
d'Orta; then there is the Madonna of Oropa in the mountains of
Biella, which sanctuary is in the diocese of Vercelli, as is also S.
Giovanni di Campiglio, the Madonna di Crevacore, and Gattinara; there
is also the Mount Calvary of Domo d'Ossola, on the road towards
Switzerland, and Montrigone below Borgosesia.  These, indeed, are but
chapels in imitation of our own Holy Sepulchre, and cannot compare
with it neither in opulence nor in importance; still those of Varese
and Oropa are of some note and wealth.  Moreover, the neighbourhood
of this our own Jerusalem is the exact counterpart of that which is
in the Holy Land, having the Mastallone on the one side for the brook
Kedron, and the Sesia for the Jordan, and the lake of Orta for that
of Caesaraea; while for the Levites there are the fathers of St.
Bernard of Mentone in the Graian and Pennine Alps of Aosta, where
there are so many Roman antiquities that they may be contemplated not
only as monuments of empire, but as also of the vanity of all human
greatness" (pp. 19-21).

A little later the Canon tells us of the antiquity of the councils
that have been held in the neighbourhood, and of one especially:-

"Which was held secretly by five bishops on the summit of one of the
mountains of Sorba in the Val Rassa, which is still hence called the
bishops' seat; for they came thither as to the place where the five
dioceses adjoined, and each one sat on a stone within the boundary of
his own diocese; and they are those of Novara, Vercelli, Ivrea, Orta,
and Sion.  Nor must we forget the signal service rendered to the
universal church in these same mountains of Rassa by the discomfiture
of the heretic monks Gazzari to which end Pope Clement V. in 1307
issued several bulls, and among them one bearing date on the third
day of the ides of August, given at Pottieri, in which he confirmed
the liberty of our people, and acknowledged the Capi as Counts of the
Church . . . For the Valsesian people have been ever free, and by
God's grace have shaken off the yoke of usurpers while continuing
faithful and profitable subjects of those who have equitably
protected them."

Torrotti goes on to tell us about the Blessed shepherdess Panesia, a
virgin of the most exquisite beauty, and only fifteen years old, who
was martyred on the 1st of May 1383 on the mountain of S. Giovanni of
Quarona, with three wounds on her head and two on her throat,
inflicted by a wicked stepmother who had a devil, and whose behests
she had obeyed with such consummate sweetness that she had attained
perfection; on which, so invariably do extremes meet, she had to be
put to death and made a martyr; and if we want to know more about
her, we can find it in the work that has been so elegantly written
about her by the most illustrious Father Castiglione Sommasco.
Again, there was the famous miracle in 1333 of S. Maiolo in Val
Rassa, which is celebrated every year, and in virtue of which Pietro,
only child of Viscount Emiliano, one of the three brothers who fought
against the heretics, was saved after having been carried off by a
ravenous wolf into the woods of Val Sorba as far as the fountain
named after the rout which this same Count, when he afterwards grew
up, inflicted upon the enemies of the valley in 1377; wherefore he is
seen in an old picture of those times as a child in swaddling-clothes
in the mouth of a wolf, and he gave the name of Fassola di S. Maiolo
to his descendants.  Nor, as in private duty bound, can the worthy
Canon forget -

"My own beloved chapel of St. Mary of the Snow, for whose honour and
glory I have done my utmost, at the entrance of the Val Mastallone;
for here on a fragment of ruined wall there grow at all times sundry
flowers, even in the ice and snows of winter; wherefore I had the
distich set up where it may be now seen."

I have never seen it, but must search for it next time I go to
Varallo.  Torrotti presently says that the country being sterile, the
people are hard pressed for food during two-thirds of the year; hence
they have betaken themselves to commerce and to sundry arts, with
which they overrun the world, returning home but once or twice a
year, with their hands well filled with that which they have
garnered, to sustain and comfort themselves with their families; and
their toil and the gains that they have made redound no little to the
advantage of the states of Milan and Piedmont.  He again declares
that they maintain their liberty, neither will they brook the least
infringement thereon.  And their neighbours, he continues, as well as
the dwellers in the valley itself, are interested in this; for here,
as in some desert or peaceful wilderness, the noble families of Italy
and neighbouring provinces have been ever prone to harbour in times
of war and trouble.

Then, later, there comes an account of a battle, which I cannot very
well understand, but it seems to have been fought on the 26th of July
1655.  The Savoyards were on their way to assist at a siege of Pavia,
and were determined to punish the Valsesians en route; they had come
up from Romagnano to Borgosesia, when the Valsesians attacked them as
they were at dinner, and shot off the finger of a general officer who
was eating an egg; on this the battle became general, and the
Savoyards were caught every way; for the waters of the Sesia had come
down in flood during the night.  The Germans of Alagna, Rima, and
Rimella were in it, somehow, and those of Pregemella in the Val
Dobbia.  I cannot make out whether the Pregemella people were Germans
or merely people; either way, the German-speaking villages in the Val
Sesia appear to have been the same two hundred years ago as now.  I
mean, it does not seem that the German-speaking race extended lower
down the valley then than now.  But at any rate, the queen, or
whoever "Madama Reale" may be, was very angry about the battle.

"It is the custom," concludes our author, "in token of holy
cheerfulness (allegria spirituale) to wear a sprig of pine in the hat
on leaving the holy place, to show that the visitor has been there;
for it has some fine pine trees.  This custom was introduced in royal
merriment by Carlo Emmanuele I.  He put a sprig in his hat, and was
imitated by all his court, and the ladies wore the same in their
bosom or in their hair.  Assuredly it is one of the wonders of the
world to see here, amid the amenities and allurements of the country,
especially during the summer season, what a continuous festa or holy
fair is maintained.  For there come and go torrents of men and women
of every nation under heaven.  Here you shall see pilgrims and
persons in religion of every description, processions, prelates, and
often princes and princesses, carriages, litters, caleches,
equipages, cavalcades accompanied by trumpeters, gay troops of
cavaliers, and ladies with plumes in their hats and rich apparel
wherewithal to make themselves attractive; and at intervals you shall
hear all manner of songs, concerts, and musical instruments, both
civil and military, all done with a modest and devout cheerfulness of
demeanour, by which I am reminded of nothing so strongly as of the
words of the Psalmist in the which he saith 'Come and see the works
of the Lord, for He hath done wonders upon earth.'"

It must have been something like our own Tunbridge Wells or Bath in
the last century.  Indeed, one is tempted to think that if the sea
had come up to Varallo, it must have been almost more like Margate
than Jerusalem.  Nor can we forget the gentle rebuke administered on
an earlier page to those who came neither on business nor for
devotion's sake, but out of mere idle curiosity, and bringing with
them company which the good Canon designates as scandalous.  Mais
nous avons change tout cela.

I have allowed myself to quote so freely from Torrotti, as thinking
that the reader will glean more incidentally from these fragments
about the genius of Varallo and its antecedents than he would get
from pages of disquisition on my own part.  Returning to the Varallo
of modern times, I would say that even now that the railway has been
opened, the pleasantest way of getting there is still over the Colma
from Pella opposite Orta.  I always call this road "the root," for I
once saw it thus described, obviously in good faith, in the visitors'
book at one of the inns in Varallo.  The gentleman said he had found
"the root" without any difficulty at Pella, had taken it all the way
to Varallo, and it was delicious.  He said it was one of the finest
"roots" he had ever seen, and it was only nine or ten miles long.

There were one or two other things in that book, of which, while I am
about it, I should like to deliver my mind.  A certain man who wrote
a bold round hand signed his name "Tom Taylor"--doubtless not the
late well-known art critic and dramatic writer, but some other person
of the same name--in the visitors' book of the Hotel Leone d'Oro at
Orta, and added the word "disgusted."  I saw this entry, then
comparatively recent, in 1871, and on going on to the Hotel d'Italia
at Varallo, found it repeated--"Tom Taylor disgusted."  The entries
in each case were probably aimed at the Sacro Monte, and not at the
inn; but they grated on me, as they must have done on many other
English visitors; and I saw with pleasure that some one had written
against the second of them the following epigram, which is too neat
not to be preserved.  It ran:-

"Oh wretched Tom Taylor, disgusted at Orta,
   At Varallo we find him disgusted again;
The feeling's contagious, I really have caught a
   Disgust for Tom Taylor--he travels in vain."

Who, I wonder, was it who could fling off such an apt impromptu, and
how many more mute inglorious writers have we not who might do
anything they chose if they would only choose to do anything at all?
Some one else had written on an earlier page; -


"While you've that which makes the mare go
You should stay at this albergo,

Bona in esse and in posse
Are dispensed by Joseph Rossi.


"Ask him and he'll set before ye
Vino birra e liquori,

Asti, Grignolino, Sherry
Prezzi moderati--very."

There was more, but I have forgotten it.  Joseph Rossi was a famous
old waiter long since retired, something like Pietro at the Hotel
Rosa Rossa at Casale, whom all that country side knew perfectly well.
This last entry reminds me of a somewhat similar one which I saw some
five and thirty years ago at the inn at Harlech; -


[Greek text which cannot be reproduced]
By this 'ere I mean to testify how very well they feed you.


"Quam superba sit ruina,
Ipsa sua semper laus,
And the castle--nothing finer,
With its ivy and jackdaws."

It is a pity the art of writing such pleasing little poems should be
now so generally neglected in favour of more ambitious compositions.
Whatever brevity may be as regards wit it is certainly the soul of
all agreeable poetry.

But again to return to Varallo, or rather to the way of reaching it
by the Colma.  There is nothing in North Italy more beautiful than
this walk, with its park-like chestnut-covered slopes of undulating
pasture land dotted about with the finest thatched barns to be found
outside Titian.  We might almost fancy that Handel had it in his mind
when he wrote his divine air "Verdi Prati."  Certainly no country can
be better fitted either to the words or music.  It continues in full
beauty all the way to Civiasco, where the carriage road begins that
now goes down into the main road between Varallo and Novara, joining
it a mile and a half or so below Varallo.

Close to the point of juncture there is a chapel of singularly
graceful elegant design, called the Madonna di Loreto.  To this
chapel I will again return:  it is covered with frescoes.  Near it
there is an open triangular piece of grass land on which a murderer
was beheaded within the memory of persons still living.  A wild old
man, who looked like an executioner broken loose from the
flagellation chapel on the Sacro Monte, but who was quite tame and
kind to us when we came to know him, told Jones and myself this last
summer that he remembered seeing the murderer brought here and
beheaded, this being as close as might be to the place where the
murder had been committed.  We were at first rather sceptical, but on
inquiry at Varallo found that there had been an execution here, the
last in the open country, somewhere about the year 1835.

From this spot two roads lead to Varallo; one somewhat circuitous by
Mantegna, a village notable for a remarkable fresco outside the
church, in which the Virgin is appearing to a lady and gentleman as
they are lying both of them fast asleep in a large bed, with their
two dear little round heads on a couple of comfortable pillows.  The
three Magi in the very interesting frescoes behind the choir in the
church of S. Abbondio at Como are, if I remember, all in one bed when
the angel comes to tell them about the star, and I fancy they have a
striped counterpane, but it is some time since I saw the frescoes; at
any rate the angel was not a lady.  We had often before seen the
Virgin appear to a lady in bed, and even to a gentleman in bed, but
never before to a lady and a gentleman both in the same bed.  She is
not, however, so much appearing to them as sitting upon them, and I
should say she was pretty heavy.  The fresco is dated 1641.

The other road is the direct one, and passes the old church of St.
Mark, outside which there are some charming fifteenth-century
frescoes by nobody in particular, and among them a cow who, at the
instance of St. Mark, is pinning a bear or wolf to a tree in a most
resolute determined manner.

There are other frescoes on this church by the Varallese painter
Luini (not to be confounded with Bernardino), but I do not remember
them as remarkable.

Up to this point the two highest peaks of Monte Rosa are still
visible when clouds permit; here they disappear behind nearer
mountains, and in a few more hundred yards Varallo is entered.


In geographical position Varallo is the most western city of North
Italy in which painting and sculpture were endemic.  Turin, Novara,
Vercelli, Casale, Ivrea, Biella, Alessandria, and Aosta have no
endemic art comparable to that of the cities east of Milan.  Bergamo,
Brescia, Verona, Vicenza, Padua, not to mention Venice and the cities
of the Friuli, not only produced artists who have made themselves
permanently famous, but are themselves, in their architecture and
external features generally, works of art as impressive as any they
contain; they are stamped with the widely-spread instinctive feeling
for beauty with which the age and people that reared them must
assuredly have been inspired.  The eastern cities have perhaps
suffered more from war, nevertheless it is hard to think that the
beauty so characteristic of the eastern Lombardic cities should fail
so conspicuously, at least by comparison, in the western, if the
genius of the places had been the same.  All cities are symptomatic
of the men who built them, towns no less than bodily organisation
being that unknown something which we call mind or spirit made
manifest in material form.  Englishmen, Frenchmen, Germans, and
Italians--to name them in alphabetical order, are not more distinct
in their several faults and virtues than are London, Paris, Berlin,
and Rome, in the impression they leave on those who see them.  How
closely in each case does the appearance of the city correspond with
the genius of the nation of which it is the capital.  The same holds
good more or less with the provincial cities of any country.  They
have each in a minor degree their distinctive evidences of character,
and it will hardly be denied that while the North Italian genius is
indebted to the cities of Piedmont for perhaps its more robust and
vigorous elements, it owes its command of beauty whether of form or
colour to Lombardy rather than to Piedmont.  It seems to have been
ordained that an endemic interest in art should not cross the Po
northward to the west of the Ticino, and to this rule Varallo is only
partially an exception; the reasons which led to its being an
exception at all will be considered presently.  I know, of course,
that Novara, and still more Vercelli, contain masterpieces by
Gaudenzio Ferrari, but in each case the art was exotic, and with the
not very noteworthy exceptions of Lanini, Difendente Ferrari di
Chivasso, and Macrino d'Alba, I do not at the moment call to mind the
name of a single even high second-class painter or sculptor who has
hailed from west of the Valsesia.

The exceptional position of Varallo as regards North Italian art must
be referred mainly to its selection by Bernardino Caimi as the site
for the New Jerusalem which he founded there at the end of the
fifteenth century; a few words, therefore, concerning him will not be
out of place here; I learn from Torrotti that he was a "Frate Minore
Osservante di S. Francesco," and came of the noble and illustrious
Milanese family of the Counts Caimi.  He had been Patriarch of the
Holy Land, and, as I find stated in Signor Galloni's excellent work
already referred to, {1} had been employed on important missions in
the island of Cyprus, chiefly in connection with the reformation of
abuses.  Full of zeal and devotion he returned to his native country,
and ere long conceived the design of reproducing in Italy a copy of
the most important sites in the Holy Land, for the comfort and
greater commodity of so many Christians who, being unable to commit
themselves to long and weary voyages by land and sea, and among
infidels, might gather thence some portion of that spiritual fruit
which were otherwise beyond their reach.

Old and mendicant as he was, he was nothing daunted by the magnitude
of the task before him, and searched Lombardy from one end to the
other in his desire to provide Providence with a suitable abode.  For
a long while he sought in vain, and could find no place that was
really like Jerusalem, but at last, towards the end of 1491, he came
to Varallo alone, and had hardly got there before he felt himself
rapt into an ecstasy, in the which he was drawn towards the Sacro
Monte; when he got up to the plain on the top of the mountain which
was then called "La Parete," perceiving at once its marvellous
resemblance to Jerusalem, even to the existence of another mountain
hard by which was like Calvary, he threw himself on the ground and
thanked God in a transport of delight.  It is said that for some time
previously the shepherds who watched their flocks on this solitary
height had been talking of nothing but of heavenly harmonies that had
been heard coming from the sky; that Caimi himself while yet in the
Holy Land had been shown this place in a vision; and that on reaching
an eminence called Sceletta he had been conducted to the site itself
by the song of a bird which sang with such extraordinary sweetness
that he had been constrained to follow it.

I should have set this bird down as a blue rock thrush or passero
solitario, for I know these birds breed yearly on the Sacro Monte,
and no bird sings so sweetly as they do, but we are expressly told
that Caimi did not reach Varallo till the end of the year, and the
passeri solitarii have all migrated by the end of August.  We have
seen, however, that Milano Scarrognini actually founded a chapel in
October 1491, so Torrotti is wrong in his date, and Caimi may have
come in 1490, and perhaps in August, before the passeri were gone.
There can be little doubt in fact that he came, or at any rate chose
his site, before 1486.

Whatever the bird may have been, Caimi now communicated his design to
the Consiglio della Vicinanza at Varallo, through Milano de'
Scarrognini, who was a member of the body, and who also gave support
in money; negotiations were not finally concluded until the 14th of
April 1493, on which day, as we have already seen, the site of the
monastery of S. Maria della Grazie was conveyed to the Padri dell'
Osservanza with the concession of a right to build their New
Jerusalem on the adjoining mountain--which they had already begun to
do for some time past.

Divine assistance was manifest in the ease with which everything had
been arranged, but Torrotti goes on to assure us that it was
presently made still clearer.  The design had been to begin with a
reproduction of the Holy Sepulchre, and hardly had the workmen begun
to dig for the foundation of this first work, when a stone was found,
not only resembling the one which covered the actual Holy Sepulchre
itself, but an absolute facsimile of it in all respects--as like it,
in fact, or even more so, than Varallo was to Jerusalem.  The
testimony to this was so notorious, and the fact was so soon and
widely known, that pilgrims flocked in crowds and brought gifts
enough to bring the first abode of the Fathers with the chapel beside
it to a speedy and successful completion.  Everything having been now
started auspiciously, and the Blessed Bernardino having been allowed
to look, as it were, into the promised land, God took him to Himself
on the 5th day of the Ides of February 1496, or--as I have above said
that the inscription on Caimi's tomb declares--in 1499.

The churches, both the one below the mountain in which Gaudenzio's
great series of frescoes may be still seen, and the one on the top,
which stood on the site now occupied by the large house that stands
to the right of the present church, and is called the Casino, were
consecrated between the 5th and 7th days of September 1501, and by
this time several of the chapels with figures in them had been taken
in hand, and were well advanced if not completed.

Fassola's version of Bernardino Caimi's visit is more guarded than
Torrotti's is.  Before going on to it I will say here the little that
need be said about Fassola himself.  I find from Signor Galloni's
"Uomini e fatti" (p. 208) that he was born at Rassa above Bucioleto
in the Val Grande, on the 19th of September 1648.  His family had one
house at Rassa, and another at Varallo, which last is believed to
have been what is now the hotel Croce Bianca, at which I always
myself stay.  Torrotti, in his preface, claims to have been one of
his masters; he also says that Fassola was only eighteen when he
wrote his work on the Sacro Monte, and that he had published a work
when he was only fourteen.  The note given by Signor Galloni [p. 233]
settles it that Fassola was born "anno D. 1648 die 19 septembris hora
22 min. 30," so that either the book lay some years unpublished, or
he was over twenty when he wrote it.  Like the edition of Caccia
already referred to, it is dated a year later than the one in which
it actually appeared, so that the present custom of post-dating late
autumn books is not a new one.  In the preface the writer speaks of
his pen as being "tenera non tanto per talento quanto per l'eta."  In
the same preface he speaks of himself as having a double capacity,
one as a Delegate to the governing body of the valley, and the other
as a canon; but he must mean some kind of lay canon, for I cannot
find that he was ever ordained.  In 1672 he published his work "La
Valsesia descritta," which according to Signor Galloni is more
hastily written than his earlier work.  On the 14th of December, the
same year, he left the Valsesia and travelled to France, keeping a
journal for some time, which Signor Galloni tells us still existed in
1873 in the possession of Abate Cav. Carestia of Riva Valdobbia.  He
went to Paris, and appears to have stayed there till 1683, when he
returned to Varallo, and the Valsesia.

He found his country torn by faction, and was immediately hailed by
all parties as the one man whom all could agree to elect as Regent
General of the Valley.  He was elected, and on the 5th of October
convened his first general council of the Valsesia.  He seems to have
been indefatigable as an administrator during the short time he held
office, but in the year 1684 was deposed by the Milanese, who on the
3rd of December sent a body of armed men to seize him and take him to
Milan.  He was warned in time to fly, and escaped to France, where
according to some he died, while others say that he settled in Poland
and there attained high distinction.  Nothing, however, is known for
certain about him later than the year 1684 or the beginning of 1685.

In 1686 Torrotti published his book.  He says that Fassola during his
regency repeatedly desired him "ripigliare questa relatione per
commodita dei Pelegrini, Divoti, visitanti," and that so much new
matter had come to light since Fassola's time that a new work was
called for.  Fassola, he says, even in the midst of his terrible
misfortunes, continued to take the warmest interest in his native
city, and in the Sacro Monte, where it appears he had been saluted by
a very memorable and well-known miracle, which was so well known in
Torrotti's time that it was not necessary to tell us what it was.
Fassola may or may not have urged Torrotti to write a second work
upon the Sacro Monte, but he can hardly have intended him to make it
little more than a transcript of his own book.  If new facts had come
to light they do not appear in Torrotti's pages.  He very rarely adds
to Fassola, and never corrects him; when Fassola is wrong Torrotti is
wrong also; even when something is added I have a strong suspicion
that it comes from Fassola's second book.  On the whole I am afraid I
regard Torrotti as somewhat of a plagiarist--at least as regards his
matter, for his manner is his own and is very quaint, garrulous, and

Fassola's work is full of inaccuracies, and of such inaccuracies as
can only be explained on the supposition that the writer resided
mainly at Rassa, wrote his book there, and relied too much upon notes
which he did not verify after his work was written.  Nevertheless, as
Signor Galloni justly says, "he must be allowed the merit of having
preserved an immense mass of matter from otherwise almost certain
destruction, and his pages when subjected to rigid examination and
criticism furnish abundant material to the writer of genuine

He leans generally much less towards the miraculous than Torrotti
does.  After saying, for example, that Bernardino Caimi had returned
from Jerusalem in 1481 full of devotion and with the fixed intention
of reproducing the Holy City on Italian soil, he continues:-

"With this holy intent the good ecclesiastic journeyed to the
mountains of Biella, and thence to the Val d'Ossola, and thence to
several places in the Valsesia, which of all others was the valley in
which he was most inclined to unburden his mind of the treasure of
his heroic design.  Finally, arriving at Varallo, as the place of
most resort, where most of those would come whose means and goodwill
would incline them to works of piety, he resolved to choose the most
suitable site that he could here find.  According to some, while
taking counsel with himself and with all who could help him, the site
which we now adore was shown him in a vision; others say that on
walking without the town he was seduced by the angelic warbling of a
bird, and thus ravished to a spot where he found all things in such
order for his design that he settled upon it then and there.  Many
hold as true the story of certain shepherds who about a fortnight
earlier than the coming of the father, heard songs of more than
earthly sweetness as they were keeping watch over their flocks by

"But," concludes Fassola, with some naivete considering the reserve
he has shown in accepting any of the foregoing stories, "take it in
whatever way you will, the inception of the place was obviously


Whether miraculous or not, the early history of the Sacro Monte is
undoubtedly obscure, and the reader will probably have ere this
perceived that the accounts given by Fassola and Torrotti stand in
some need of reconstruction.  The resemblance between Varallo and
Jerusalem is too far fetched to have had any bona fide effect upon a
man of travel and of affairs, such as Caimi certainly was; it is
hardly greater than the famous one between Monmouth and Macedon;
there is, indeed, a river--not to say two--at Varallo, and there is a
river also only twenty-five miles off Jerusalem; doubtless at one
time or another there have been crucifixions in both, but some other
reason must be sought for the establishment of a great spiritual
stronghold at the foot of the Alps, than a mere desire to find the
place which should most remind its founder of the Holy City.  Why
this great effort in a remote and then almost inaccessible province
of the Church, far from any of the religious centres towards which
one would have expected it to gravitate?  The answer suggests itself
as readily as the question; namely, that it was an attempt to stem
the torrent of reformed doctrines already surging over many an Alpine
pass, and threatening a moral invasion as fatal to the spiritual
power of Rome as earlier physical invasions of Northmen had been to
her material power.

Those who see the Italian sub-alpine valleys of to-day as devoted to
the Church of Rome are apt to forget how nearly they fell away from
her in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and what efforts,
both by way of punishment and allurement, she was compelled to make
before she could retain them in her grasp.  In most of them the
ferment caused by the introduction of the reformed doctrines was in
the end stamped out; but in some, as in the Valle di Poschiavo, and
the Val Bregaglia, Protestantism is still either the predominant
creed or not uncommon.  I do not mention the Vaudois valleys of
Piedmont, for I am told these were Protestant before either Huss or
Luther preached.

The Valsesians had ere now given proof of a tendency towards heresy,
but they were a people whom it was worth while making every effort to
retain.  They have ever been, as we have seen it said already, a
vigorous, sturdy, independent race, imbued, in virtue perhaps of
their mixed descent, with a large share of the good points both of
Southern and Northern nations.  They are Italians; but Italians of
the most robust and Roman type, combining in a remarkable degree
Southern grace and versatility with Northern enterprise and power of
endurance.  It is no great stretch of imagination to suppose that
Bernardino Caimi was alive to dangers that were sufficiently obvious,
and that he began with the Val Sesia, partly as of all the sub-alpine
valleys the one most imbued with German blood--the one in which to
this day the German language has lingered longest, and in which,
therefore, ideas derived from Germany would most easily be
established--and partly because of the quasi-independence of the Val
Sesia, and of its lying out of the path of those wars from which the
plains of Lombardy have been rarely long exempt.  It may be noted
that the movement set on foot by Caimi extended afterwards to other
places, always, with the exception of Crea, on the last slopes of the
Alps before the plains of Lombardy and Piedmont begin.  Varese,
Locarno, Orta, Varallo, Oropa, Graglia, St. Ignazio, not to mention
St. Giovanni di Andorno, have all of them something of the spiritual
frontier fortress about them, and, I imagine, are all more or less
directly indebted to the reformation for their inception.

Confining our attention to Varallo, the history of the Sacro Monte
divides itself into two main periods; the first, from the foundation
to the visit of S. Carlo Borromeo in 1678; the second, from the visit
of S. Carlo to the present day.  The first of these periods begins
with 1486, in which year the present Sacro Monte was no doubt
formally contemplated, if not actually commenced.  That it was
contemplated is shown by the inscription on Caimi's grave already
given, and also by the first of the two deeds given in Signor
Galloni's notes, from which it appears {2} that under the brief of
December 21, 1486, Caimi had powers to take over the land now covered
by the chapels, EVEN THOUGH HE SHOULD BE ABSENT--it being evidently
intended that the land should be conveyed at once, and before he
could return from Jerusalem, for which place he started in 1487.
Moreover, there remains one small chapel with frescoes that can
hardly be later than 1485-1490.  This is now numbered 45, and is
supposed by many to be older even than Caimi's first visit.  It may
be so, but there is nothing to show that it actually was.  I have
seen a date scratched on it which it is said is 1437, but the four is
really a five, which in old writing is often taken for a four, and
the frescoes, which in their own way are of considerable merit, would
be most naturally assigned to about the date 1485-1490.  I do not
think there can be a doubt that we have in this chapel the earliest
existing building on the Sacro Monte, but find it impossible to form
any opinion as to whether it was in existence before Bernardino
Caimi's time, or no.

In the second of the two deeds given by Signor Galloni (p. 85), the
following passage occurs:-

"Et similiter fecerunt ipsi Sindici, et Procuratores, ut supra
introducendo ipsum Patrem Vicarium ut supra in Eremitorium sancti
Sepulchri existent. in loco ubi dicebatur super pariete, aperiendo
eidem ostia dicti Eremitorij, et dando eidem claues Ostiorum dicti
eremitorij, et eum deambulari faciendo in eo, et similiter in Hortis
dicti Eremitorij, dando eidem in gremium ut supra de terris, herbis,
et frondibus, et lapidibus existen. in locis praedictis, et similiter
in Capella existente subtus crucem, et in Capellam Ascensionis
AEdificatam super Monte praedicto.  Qui locus est de membris dicti
Monasterii suprascripti."

Neither Signor Galloni, who pointed out this passage to me, nor I,
though we have more than once discussed the matter on the ground
itself, can arrive at any conclusion as to what was intended by "the
chapel now in existence under the cross," nor yet what chapel is
intended by "the chapel of the Ascension on the said mountain."  It
is probable that there was an early chapel of the Ascension, and the
wooden figure of Christ on the fountain in the piazza before the
church was very likely taken from it, but there is no evidence to
show where it stood.

Signor Arienta tells me that the chapel now occupied by the
Temptation in the Wilderness was formerly a chapel of the Ascension.
He told me to go round to the back of this chapel, and I should find
it was earlier than appeared from the front.  I did so, and saw it
had formerly fronted the other way to what it does now, but among the
many dates scrawled on it could find none earlier than 1506, and it
is not likely to have been built thirteen years before it got
scrawled on.

Some hold the chapels referred to in the deed above quoted from to
have included the present Annunciation, Salutation, and sleeping St.
Joseph block--or part of it.  Others hold them to have referred to
the chapels now filled by the Pieta and the Entombment (Nos. 40 and
41); but it should not be forgotten that by 1493 the chapels of S.
Francis and the Holy Sepulchre were already in existence, though no
mention is made of them; and there may have been other chapels also
already built of which no mention is made.  Thus immediately outside
the St. Francis chapel and towards the door leading to the Holy
Sepulchre, there is a small recess in which is placed an urn of iron
that contains the head of Bernardino Caimi with a Latin inscription;
and hard by there is another inscription which runs as follows:-

"Magnificus D. Milanus Scarrogninus hoc Sepulcrum cum fabrica sibi
contigua Christo posuit die septimo Octobris MCCCCLXXXXI.  R. P.
Frater Bernardinus de Mediolano Ordinis Minorum de Observ. sacra
hujus montis excogitavit loca, ut hic Hierusalem videat qui peragrare

We may say with some confidence that the present chapel No. 45, those
numbered 40 and 41, the block containing the St. Francis and Holy
Sepulchre chapels, and probably the Presepio, Adoration of the
Shepherds, and Circumcision chapels--though it may be doubted whether
these last contained the figures that they now do--were in existence
before the year 1500.  Part if not all of the block containing the
Sta. Casa di Loreto, in which the Annunciation is now found, is also
probably earlier than 1500, as also an early Agony in the Garden now
long destroyed, but of which we are told that the figures were
originally made of wood.  Over and above these there was a Cena,
Capture, Flagellation, and an Ascension chapel, all of which
contained wooden figures, and cannot be dated later than the three or
four earliest years of the sixteenth century.  No wooden figure is to
be dated later than this, for when once an oven for baking clay had
been made (and this must have been done soon after Gaudenzio took the
works on the Sacro Monte in hand) the use of wood was discarded never
to be resumed.

According to both Fassola and Torrotti, the first chapel erected on
the Sacro Monte was that of S. Francesco, with its adjacent
reproduction of the Holy Sepulchre.  According to Bordiga the first
was the entombment, containing nine figures of wood, or, as the
earlier writers say, eight.  Bordiga probably means that the
Entombment was the earliest chapel with figures in it, and the other
writers that the St. Francis chapel was the first in which mass was
said.  These last speak very highly of the wooden figures in the
Entombment chapel, and so more guardedly does Bordiga.  I will return
to them when I come to the present group of nine by Luigi Marchesi, a
sculptor of Saltrio, which were substituted for the old ones in 1826.
The early writers say that there was no fresco background to this
chapel, and this suggests that the attempt to combine sculpture and
painting was not part of the initial scheme, though soon engrafted on
to it, inasmuch as this is the only chapel about which I find it
expressly stated by early writers that it was without a fresco
background ("senza pittura alcuna"). {3}  Though there was no fresco
background, Bordiga says there was a fresco painted, doubtless done
very early in his career, by Gaudenzio Ferrari, outside the chapel
just above the iron grating through which the visitor must look.
Probably the original scheme was to have sculptured figures inside
the chapels, and frescoes outside; by an easy modification these last
were transferred from the outside to the inside, and so designed as
to form an integral part of the composition:  the daring scheme of
combining the utmost resources of both painting and sculpture in a
single work was thus gradually evolved rather than arrived at per
saltum.  Assuming, however, the currently received date of 1503 or
1504 as correct for Gaudenzio's frescoes in the present Pieta chapel,
the conception as carried out in the greater number of the existing
chapels had then attained the shape from which no subsequent
departure was made.

Returning to Gaudenzio's fresco outside the S. Francesco chapel,
Bordiga says that Caccia gave the following lines on this work:-

"Sotto un vicino portico di fuore
Portato a sepelir e di pittura
Un Cristo; che non mai Zeuxi pittore
Di questo finse piu bella figura,
Che un San Francesco possa pareggiare,
Pinto piu inanzi sopra d'un altare."

The reader will note that the fresco is here expressly stated to be
"di fuore" or outside and not inside the chapel.

Both Fassola and Torrotti place this fresco on the outside wall of
the chapel of St. Francis, but Bordiga is probably right in saying it
was on the Entombment chapel.  No trace of it remains, nor yet of the
other works by Gaudenzio, which all three writers agree were in the
S. Francesco chapel, though they must all have been some few years
later than the chapel itself.  These consisted of portraits of Milano
Scarrognini with Father Beato Candido Ranzo Bernardino Caimi upon the
gospel, or right, side of the altar, and of Scarrognini's wife and
son with Bernardino Caimi, on the epistle side.  According to
Bordiga, Gaudenzio also painted a St. Anthony of Padua, and a St.
Helena, one on either side the grating.  Inside the chapel over the
altar was a painting of St. Francis receiving the stigmata, also by
Gaudenzio.  This is the only one of his works in or about the S.
Francesco chapel which still exists; it is now in the pinacoteca of
the Museum at Varallo, but is not, so far as I could judge of it, one
of his best pictures.  The other works were in a decayed condition in
1703, when they were removed, and the chapel was redecorated by
Francesco Leva, a painter of Milan.

The Crucifixion chapel of Gaudenzio Ferrari was begun and finished
between 1520 and 1530. 1 have found three excellently written dates
of 1529 scrawled upon the fresco background.  One of them, "1529 Die
26 Octobre Johannes Antoninus," is especially clear, and the other
two leave no doubt what year was intended.  I have found no earlier
date, but should not be surprised if further search were more
successful.  I may say in passing that it seemed to me as though some
parts of the scar made by the inscription had been filled with paint,
while others had certainly not--as though the work had been in parts
retouched, not so very long ago.  I think this is so, but two or
three to whom I showed what I took to be the new colour were not
convinced, so I must leave others to decide the point.

The Magi chapel must be assigned to some date between the years 1530
and 1539--I should say probably to about 1538, but I will return to
this later on.  Torrotti says that some of the figures on the Christ
taken for the last time before Pilate (chapel No. 32) are by
Gaudenzio, as also some paintings that were preserved when the
Palazzo di Pilato was built, but I can see no sign of either one or
the other now; nevertheless it is likely enough that several figures-
-transformed as we shall presently see that d'Enrico or his
assistants knew very well how to transform them--are doing duty in
the Caiaphas, Herod, Pilate, and Ecce Homo chapels.  So cunningly did
the workmen of that time disguise a figure when they wanted to alter
its character and action that it would be no easy matter to find out
exactly what was done; if they could turn an Eve, as they did, into a
very passable Roman soldier assisting at the capture of Christ, they
could make anything out of anything.  A figure was a figure, and was
not to be thrown away lightly.

Soon after the completion of the Magi chapel the work flagged in
consequence of the wars then devastating the provinces of North
Italy; nevertheless by the middle of the sixteenth century we learn
from Torrotti that some nineteen chapels had been completed.

It is idle to spend much time in guessing which these chapels were,
when Caccia's work, published in 1565, is sure to be found some day
and will settle the matter authoritatively, but the reader will not
be far wrong if he sees the Sacro Monte by the year 1550 as
consisting of the following chapels:  Adam and Eve, Annunciation,
Salutation (?), Magi, Adoration of the Infant Jesus by the Shepherds,
Adoration by Joseph and Mary, Circumcision, (but not the present
figures nor fresco background), Last Supper, Agony in the Garden,
Capture, Flagellation, Crowning with thorns (?), Christ taken for the
last time before Pilate, the Original journey to Calvary, Fainting
Madonna, Crucifixion, Entombment, Ascension, and the old church of
the Assumption of the Virgin Mary now removed.  There were probably
one or two others, but there cannot have been many.

In the 1586 edition of Caccia, a MS. copy of which I have before me,
the chapels are given as follows:  Adam and Eve, Annunciation, and
Santa Casa di Loreto, Visit of Mary to Elizabeth, Magi, Joseph and
Mary worshipping the Infant Christ, and the Adoration of Shepherds,
{4} Circumcision, Joseph warned to fly, the chapel (but not the
figures) of the Massacre of the Innocents, Flight into Egypt Baptism,
Temptation in the Wilderness, Woman of Samaria, the chapel (but not
the figures) of the Healing of the Paralytic, and the Raising of the
Widow's son at Nain, the Raising of Lazarus, Entry of Christ into
Jerusalem, the Last Supper, Agony in the Garden, Capture,
Flagellation, Crowning with Thorns, Christ carrying His cross to
Calvary (doubtless Tabachetti's chapel), the Fainting of the Virgin,
the earlier Journey to Calvary by Gaudenzio (now dispersed or
destroyed), Crucifixion, Pieta, Holy Sepulchre, Appearance to Mary
Magdalene (now no longer existing).

I should say, however, that I find it impossible to reconcile the two
accounts of the journeys to Calvary, given in the prose introduction
to this work, and in the poetical description that follows it, or
rather to understand the topography of the poetical version at all,
for the prose account is plain enough.  I shall place a MS. copy of
the 1586 edition of Caccia's book in the British Museum, before this
present volume is published, and will leave other students of
Valsesian history to be more fortunate if they can.  Poetical
descriptions are so far better than prose, inasmuch as there is
generally less of them in a page, but on the whole prose has the

It would be interesting to see the 1565 and 1576 editions of Caccia,
and note the changes and additions that can be found in them.  The
differences between the 1586 and 1590 editions (dated 1587 and 1591-
the preface to the second being dated September 25, 1589), are enough
to throw considerable additional light upon the history of the place,
and if, as I believe likely, we find no mention of Tabachetti's
Calvary chapel in the edition of 1576, nor of his other chapels, we
should be able to date his arrival at Varallo within a very few
years, and settle a question which, until these two editions of
Caccia are found, appears insoluble.  I must be myself content with
pointing out these libri desiderati to the future historian.

Some say that the work on the Sacro Monte was almost discontinued
between the years 1540 and 1580.  I cannot, however, find that this
was so, though it appears to have somewhat flagged.  I cannot tell
whether Tabachetti came to Varallo before S. Carlo or after him.  If
before, then a good deal of the second impetus may be due to the
sculptor rather than to the saint; if after, and as a consequence of
S. Carlo's visit, then indeed S. Carlo must be considered as the
second founder of the place; but whatever view is taken about this,
S. Carlo's visit in 1578 is convenient as marking a new departure in
the history of the Sacro Monte, and he may be fairly called its
second founder.

Giussano gives the following account of his first visit, which makes
us better understand the austere expression that reigns on S. Carlo's
face, as we see it represented in his portraits:-

"It was two o'clock in the day before St. Charles arrived at this
place, and he had not broken his fast, but before taking anything he
visited the different chapels for meditation, of which Father Adorno
gave him the points.  As evening drew on, he withdrew to take his
refection of bread and water, and then returned again to the chapels
till after midnight though the weather was very cold" [end of October
or beginning of November].  "He then took two hours' rest on a chair,
and at five o'clock in the morning resumed his devotions; then, after
having said his Mass, he again allowed himself a small portion of
bread and water, and continued his journey to Milan, renewed in
fervour of spirit, and with a firm determination to begin again to
serve God with greater energy than ever." {5}

Surely one may add "according to his lights" after the words "to
serve God."  The second visit of St. Charles to Varallo, a few days
before his death, is even more painful reading, and the reader may be
referred for an account of it to chapter xi. of the second volume of
the work last quoted from.  He had a cell in the cloister, where he
slept on a wooden bed, which is still shown and venerated, and used
to spend hours in contemplating the various sacred mysteries, but
most especially the Agony in the Garden, near which a little shelter
was made for him, and in which he was praying when his impending
death was announced to him by an angel.  But this chapel, which was
near the present Transfiguration Chapel, was destroyed and rebuilt on
its present site after his death, as also the Cena Chapel, which
originally contained frescoes by Bernardino Lanini.  It was on the
Sacro Monte that S. Carlo discharged his last public functions, after
which, feeling that he had taken a chill, he left Varallo on the 29th
of October 1584, and died at Milan six days afterwards.

At S. Carlo's instance Pellegrino Pellegrini, called Tibaldi, made a
new design for the Sacro Monte, which was happily never carried out,
but which I am told involved the destruction of many of the earlier
chapels.  He made the plan of the Sacro Monte as it stood in his
time, which I have already referred to, and designed the many chapels
mentioned in the 1586 edition of Caccia as about to be built.
Prominent among these was the Temple of Solomon, which was to involve
"una spesa grandissima," and was to be as like the real temple as it
could be made.  Inside it were to be groups of figures representing
Christ driving out those that bought and sold, and it was to have a
magnificent marble portico.

The Palazzo di Pilato, which, as the name denotes, is devoted to the
sufferings of Christ under Pontius Pilate, was actually carried out,
though not till some years after S. Carlo's death, and not according
to Pellegrini's design.  It is most probable that the designer of the
Palazzo di Pilato, and of the Caiaphas and Herod chapels as we now
see them, was Giovanni d'Enrico.  "It was in 1608," says Bordiga, {6}
writing of the Santa Scala, which leads from the Crowning with Thorns
to the Ecce Homo chapels, and which, one would say, must have been
one of the first things done when the Palazzo di Pilato was made,
"that this work with its steps, exactly twenty-eight in number, was
begun, according to the design obtained from Rome by Francesco Testa,
who was then Fabbriciere.  This is for the information of those who
think it is the work of Pellegrini."

Between this year and 1645 the four Pilate chapels, the Ecce Homo,
Caiaphas, Herod, present Pieta, Sleeping Apostles, Agony in the
Garden, and Christ Nailed to the Cross chapels were either created or
reconstructed.  These works bear d'Enrico's name in the guide-books,
and he no doubt presided over the work that was done in them; but I
should say that by far the greater number of the figures in them are
by Giacomo Ferro, his assistant, to whom I will return presently, or
by other pupils and assistants.  Only one chapel, the
Transfiguration, belongs to the second half of the seventeenth
century, and one, the Christ before Annas, to the eighteenth (1765);
one--the present Entombment--belongs to the nineteenth, and one or
two have been destroyed, as has been unfortunately the case with the
Chiesa Vecchia; but the plan of the Sacro Monte in 1671, which I here
give, will show that it was not much different then from what it is
at present.  The numbers on the chapels are explained as follows:-

1.  Gate.
2.  Creation of the world and Adam and Eve.
3.  Annunciation.
4.  Salutation.
5.  First vision of St. Joseph.
6.  Magi.
7.  Nativity.
8.  Circumcision.
9.  Second vision of St. Joseph.
10.  Flight into Egypt.
11.  Massacre of the Innocents.
12.  Baptism.
13.  Temptation.
14.  Woman of Samaria.
15.  Healing the Paralytic.
16.  Widow's son at Nain.
17.  Transfiguration.
18.  Raising of Lazarus.
19.  Entry into Jerusalem.
20.  Last Supper.
21.  Agony in the Garden.
22.  Sleeping Apostles.
23.  Capture.
24.  Caiaphas, and Penitence of St. Peter.
25.  Christ before Pilate.
26.  Christ before Herod.
27.  Christ sent again to Pilate.
28.  Flagellation.
29.  Crowning with thorns.
30.  Christ about to ascend the Santa Scala (not shown on plan).
31.  Ecce Homo.
32.  Pilate washes his hands.
33.  Christ condemned to death.
34.  Christ carrying the Cross.
35.  Nailing to the Cross.
36.  Passion.
37.  Deposition from the Cross.
38.  Pieta.
39.  Entombment (not shown on plan).
40.  Chapel of St. Francis.
41.  Holy Sepulchre.
42.  Appearance to Mary Magdalene.
43.  Infancy of the Virgin.
44.  Sepulchre of the Virgin.
45.  Sepulchre of St. Anne.
46.  Ascended Christ over the fountain.
47.  Chiesa Vecchia.
48.  Chiesa Maggiore.

The view is a bird's-eye one, and there is hardly any hill in


The foregoing outline of the history of the work must suffice for the
present.  I will reserve further remarks for the space which I will
devote to each individual chapel.  As regards the particular form the
work took, I own that I have been at times inclined to wonder whether
Leonardo da Vinci may not have had something to do with it.

Between 1481 and the end of 1499 he was in Milan, and during the
later years of this period was the chief authority on all art
matters.  It is not easy to think that Caimi, who was a Milanese,
would not consult him before embarking upon an art enterprise of the
first magnitude; and certainly there is a something in the idea of
turning the full strength of both painting and sculpture at once on
to a single subject, which harmonises well with the magnificent
rashness of which we know Leonardo to have been capable, and with the
fact that he was both a painter and a sculptor himself.  There is,
however, not one scrap of evidence in support of this view, which is
based solely on the fact that both the scheme and Leonardo were
audacious, and that the first is little likely to have been
undertaken without counsel from the second.  The actual evidence
points rather, as already indicated, in the direction of thinking
that the frescoes began outside the chapels, got inside them for
shelter, and ere long claimed the premises as belonging no less to
themselves than to the statues.  The idea of treating full-relief
sculptured figures with a view to a pictorial rather than
sculpturesque effect was in itself, as undertaken when Gaudenzio was
too young to have had a voice in the matter, a daring innovation,
even without the adjunct of a fresco background; and the idea of
taking a mountain as though it were a book, and illustrating it with
a number of such groups, was more daring still.  To this extent we
may perhaps suppose Caimi to have been indebted to Leonardo da Vinci:
the rest is probably due to Gaudenzio, who evolved it in the course
of those unforeseen developments of which design and judgment are
never slow to take advantage.

To whomsoever the conception may be due, if it had only been carried
out by such artists as Tabachetti and Gaudenzio Ferrari, or even
Giovanni d'Enrico, to say nothing of Bargnola or Rossetti, (to
whichever of the two the Massacre of the Innocents must be assigned,)
works like those at Varallo might have been repeated, as indeed they
sometimes were, thenceforward to the present day.  Unfortunately the
same thing was attempted at Orta, and later on at Varese, by greatly
inferior men.  It is true that some of the groups at Varese,
especially the one in the Disputa Chapel, are exceedingly fine, and
that there are few chapels even there in which no good or even
admirable figures may be found.  Still the prevailing spirit at
Varese is stagey; the work belongs to an age when art of all kinds
was held to consist mainly in exaggeration, and when freedom from
affectation had fallen into a disrepute from which it has taken
centuries to emerge.  Nevertheless the work at Varese is for the most
part able; if at times somewhat boisterous and ranting, it is
incomparably above the feeble, silly cant of Orta; but unfortunately
it is by Orta that English people for the most part judge the attempt
to combine sculpture and painting.  It is indeed some years since I
was at this last-named place, and remembering how long I knew the
Sacro Monte at Varallo without observing the Vecchietto in the
Descent from the Cross Chapel, I cannot be sure that there is not
some more interesting work at Orta than I now know.  I do not think,
however, I am far wrong in saying that the chapels at Orta are for
the most part exceedingly bad.

So are some even at Varallo itself, but assuredly not most of them.
One--I mean, of course, Tabachetti's Journey to Calvary, which
contains about forty figures rather larger than life, and nine
horses,--is of such superlative excellence as regards composition and
dramatic power, to say nothing of the many admirable individual
figures comprised in it, that it is not too much to call it the most
astounding work that has ever been achieved in sculpture.  I know
that this is strong language, but have considered my words as much as
I care to do.  As Michael Angelo's Medicean Chapel errs on the side
of over-subtlety, refinement, and the exaggerated idealism from which
indeed there is but one step to the barocco, so does Tabachetti's on
that of over-downrightness, or, as a critic with a cultivated eye
might say, with perhaps a show of reason at a first glance, even of
vulgarity.  Nevertheless, if I could have my choice whether to have
created Michael Angelo's chapel or Tabachetti's, I should not for a
moment hesitate about choosing Tabachetti's, though it drove its
unhappy creator mad, which the Medicean chapel never did by Michael
Angelo.  Three other chapels by Tabachetti are also admirable works.
Two chapels contain very extensive frescoes by Gaudenzio Ferrari,
than which it is safe to say that no finer works of their kind have
been preserved to us.  The statues by Gaudenzio in the same chapels
are all interesting, and some remarkably good.  Their arrangement in
the Crucifixion Chapel, if not marked by the superlative dramatic
power of Tabachetti, is still solemn, dignified, and impressive.  The
frescoes by Morazzone in Tabachetti's great chapel belong to the
decline of art, but there is still much in them that is excellent.
So there is in some of those by Tanzio and Melchiorre, Giovanni
d'Enrico's brothers.  Giovanni d'Enrico's Nailing of Christ to the
Cross, with its sixty figures all rather larger than life, challenges
a comparison with Tabachetti's, which it will not bear; still it is a
great work.  So are several of his other chapels.  I am not so
thoroughly in sympathy with the work of any of the three brothers
d'Enrico as I should like to be, but they cannot be ignored or spoken
of without respect.  There are excellent figures in some of the
chapels by less well-known men; and lastly, there is the Vecchietto,
perhaps the finest figure of all, who looks as if he had dropped
straight from the heavens towards which he is steadfastly regarding,
and of whom nothing is known except that, if not by Tabachetti, he
must be by a genius in some respects even more commanding, who has
left us nothing save this Melchizedek of a figure, without father,
mother, or descent.

I have glanced at some of the wealth in store for those who will
explore it, but at the same time I cannot pretend that even the
greater number of the chapels on the Sacro Monte are above criticism;
and unfortunately some of the best do not come till the visitor, if
he takes them in the prescribed order, has already seen a good many,
and is beginning to be tired.  There is not a little to be said in
favour of taking them in the reverse order.  As when one has sampled
several figures in a chapel and found them commonplace, one is apt to
overlook a good one which may have got in by accident of shifting in
some one of the several rearrangements made in the course of more
than three centuries, so when sampling the chapels themselves, after
finding half a dozen running which are of inferior merit, we approach
the others with a bias against them.  Moreover, all of them have
suffered more or less severely from decay.  Rain and snow, indeed,
can hardly get right inside the chapels, or, at any rate, not inside
most of them, but they are all open to the air, and, at a height of
over two thousand feet, ages of winter damp have dimmed the glory
even of the best-preserved.  In many cases the hair and beards, with
excess of realism, were made of horse hair glued on, and the glue now
shows unpleasantly; while the paint on many of the faces and dresses
has blistered or peeled, leaving the figures with a diseased and
mangy look.  In other cases, they have been scraped and repainted,
and this process has probably been repeated many times over, with
inevitable loss of character; for the paint, unless very carefully
removed, must soon clog up and conceal delicate modelling in many
parts of the face and hands.  The new paint has often been of a
shiny, oleaginous character, and this will go far to vulgarise even a
finely modelled figure, giving it something of the look of a
Highlander outside a tobacconist's shop.  I am glad to see that
Professor Burlazzi, in repainting the Adam and Eve in the first
chapel, has used dead colour, as was done by Tabachetti in his
Journey to Calvary.  As the figures have often become mangy, so the
frescoes are with few exceptions injured by damp and mould.  The
expense of keeping up so many chapels must be very heavy; it is
surprising, therefore, that the general state of repair should be as
good as it is.  Nevertheless, there is not a chapel which does not
require some effort of the imagination before the mind's eye can see
it as it was when left by those who made it.

Unless the reader feels equal to this effort,--and enough remains to
make it a very possible one--he had better stick to the Royal Academy
and Grosvenor Exhibitions.  It should go without saying that a work
of art, if considered at all, must be held to be as it was when first
completed.  If we could see Gaudenzio Ferrari's Crucifixion Chapel
with its marvellous frescoes as strong and fresh in colour as they
were three centuries and a half ago, and with its nearly thirty life-
sized human figures and horses in good condition--not forgetting
that, whatever Sir Henry Layard may say to the contrary, they are all
by one hand; if, again, Tabachetti's great work was seen by us as it
was seen by Tabachetti, and Morazzone's really fine background were
not disfigured by damp and mildew, it can hardly be doubted that even
"a cultivated eye" would find little difficulty in seeing these two
chapels as among the very finest triumphs that have been vouchsafed
to human genius; and surely, if this be so, it follows that we should
rate them no lower even now.  Gaudenzio Ferrari's Crucifixion Chapel,
regarded as a single work, conceived and executed by a single artist,
who aimed with one intention at the highest points ever attained both
by painting and sculpture, and who wielded on a very large scale, in
connection with what was then held to be the sublimest and most
solemn of conceivable subjects, the fullest range of all the
resources available by either, must stand as perhaps the most
daringly ambitious attempt that has been made in the history of art.
As regards the frescoes, the success was as signal as the daring; and
even as regards the sculpture, the work cannot be said to have
failed.  Gaudenzio the sculptor will not indeed compare with
Gaudenzio the painter; still less will he compare with Tabachetti
either as a modeller or composer of full-relief figures; but
Tabachetti did not paint his own background as well as make his
figures, and something must always be allowed to those who are
carrying double.  Moreover, Tabachetti followed, whereas Gaudenzio
led as pioneer in a realm of art never hitherto attempted.
Nevertheless, I may be allowed to say that, notwithstanding all
Gaudenzio's greatness, I find Tabachetti the strongest and most
robust of all the great men who have left their mark on the Sacro
Monte at Varallo.

We cannot dismiss such works with cheap commonplaces about Madame
Tussaud's--and for aught I know there may be some very good stuff at
Madame Tussaud's--or sneer at them as though they must be all much of
a muchness, and because the Orta chapels are bad, therefore those at
Varallo must be so also.  Those who confine themselves to retailing
what they take to be art-tips gathered from our leading journals of
culture, will probably continue to trade on this not very hardly
earned capital, whatever may be urged upon the other side; but those
who will take the trouble involved in forming an independent judgment
may be encouraged to make investment of their effort here by
remembering that Gaudenzio Ferrari ranks as among the few purest and
most accomplished artists of the very culminating period of Italian
art, and that what he thought good enough to do may be well worth our
while to consider with the best attention we can give to it.

Another point should not be forgotten by those who would form their
opinion intelligently.  I mean, that they are approaching a class of
work with which they are unfamiliar, and must not, therefore, expect
to be able to make up their minds about it as they might if the
question were one either of painting or sculpture only.  Sculpture
and painting are here integral parts of a single design, and it is
some little time before we grasp this conception so fully to be able
to balance duly the merits and demerits of different compositions,
even though we eventually get to see that there is an immeasurable
distance between the best and worst.  I now know, for example, that
Tabachetti's Journey to Calvary is greatly finer than Giovanni
d'Enrico's Nailing to the Cross.  I see this so clearly that I find
it difficult to conceive how I can have doubted about it.  At the
same time, I can remember thinking that one was nearly as good as the
other, and this long after I should have found little difficulty in
making up my mind about less complex works.


The difficulty referred to at the close of the last chapter is the
same as that which those who rarely go to a theatre have to get over
before they can appreciate an actor.  They go to "Macbeth" or
"Othello," expecting to find players speaking and acting on the stage
much as they would in actual life; and not finding this, are apt to
think the acting coarse and unnatural.  They forget that the physical
conditions of the stage involve compliance with conventions from
which there is no escape, and expect the players to play a game which
the players themselves know to be impossible, and are not even trying
to play.  So important is it to understand the standpoint from which
the artists at Varallo worked, that I shall venture some further
remarks upon their aim and scope before going on to the works

Their object, or the object of those who commissioned them, was to
bring the scene with which they were engaged home to the spectator in
all its fulness, short of actual life and motion; but in this "short
of actual life and motion" what a cutting-out of the part of Hamlet
is there not involved.  We can spare a good deal of Hamlet; but if
the part is totally excised,--even though the Hamlet be Mr. Irving
himself,--the play must suffer.  To try to represent action without
the immediate changes of position and expression which are its most
essential features, seems like courting defeat, and to a certain
extent defeat does invariably follow the attempt to treat very
violent rapid action except loosely and sketchily.  Violent action
carried to high degree of finish is hardly ever successful in
painting or sculpture; a crowd done in Michael Angelo's Medici chapel
manner must inevitably fail, and if a crowd is to be treated in
sculpture at all, Tabachetti's broad, large-brushed, and somewhat
sketchy treatment is the one most to be preferred.  In spite,
however, of the incomparable success of Tabachetti's work, I am
tempted to question whether quiet and reposeful sculpture is not
always most permanently pleasing, as not involving so peremptory a
demand for the change that cannot, of course, ensue.  At any rate, as
one lie generally leads to others, so with the attempt to render
action without action's most essential characteristic, there is a
departure from realism which involves a host of other departures if
the error is to be distributed so as to avoid offence.  In other
words, convention, or a composition between artist and spectator,
whereby, in view of admitted bankruptcy and failure of possible
payment in full, a less thing shall be taken as a greater, has
superseded nature at a very early point in the proceedings.

Nevertheless, within the limits of the composition we expect to be
paid in full; whatever the dividend is we are to have all of it, and
we sometimes take a different view of the terms of the settlement to
that taken by those with whom we are dealing.  It being admitted that
the object of the Sacro Monte workmen was to bring a scene home to
the spectator in all possible fulness, we expect to have a quotum of
our own ideas of the scene, whatever they may be, put before us, and
are more or less offended when we find a composition which we
consider to be unreal even within its own covenanted limitations.
The fault, however, rests greatly with ourselves, in forgetting that
it must be the ideal of medieval Italians and not our own that we
should look for, and that their ideas concerning the chief actors in
the sacred dramas were not as ours are.  For us, the [Greek text
which cannot be reproduced] view of history has been gathered to its
fathers, and [Greek text which cannot be reproduced] is reigning in
its stead.  We believe that we have advanced upon, not degenerated
from our ancestors, except here and there as by way of back eddy, but
Italians in the Middle Ages may be excused for having been overawed
by the remains of the old splendour which met them everywhere; and
even if this had not been so, to children and half-educated people
that which happened long ago is always grander and larger than any
like thing that happened recently.  As regards the sacred dramas this
grandioseness of conception extended even to the villains of the
piece, who must be greater, more muscular, thorough-going, unredeemed
villains than any now existing.  The realism which would have proved
so touching and grateful now--for we should have found it turned into
idealism through the impress of that seal which it is time's glory to
set upon aged things--would in the Middle Ages have seemed as
unworthy, and as much below the dignity of the subject as modern
treatment of the same subjects, with modern costumes, would seem to

Ages thwart and play at cross purposes with one another, as parents
do with children; and our forefathers have been at infinite trouble
and expense to give us what we do not want, and have withheld what
they might have given with very little trouble, and we should have
held as priceless.  We cannot help it; it always has been and always
will be so.  Omne ignotum pro magnifico is a condition of existence
or at any rate of progress, and the unknown of the past takes a
splendour reflected from that of the future.  The artists and public
of the sixteenth century could no more find what they deemed a worthy
ideal in their own familiar, and as it seemed to them prosaic age
than we in ours, and every age must make its art work to its own
liking and not to that of other people.  Caimi was thinking mainly of
his own generation; he could not wait a couple of hundred years or so
till the work should become touching and quaint through age; he
wanted it to be effective then and there, which if the Apostles were
shown as mere common peasants and fishermen of the then present day,
it would not and could not be--not at any rate with the pit, and it
was to the pit as well as to the boxes that these pieces were being
played.  Let the ablest sculptors of the present time be asked to
treat sacred subjects as was attempted at Varallo, with the condition
that they must keep closely to the costume of to-day, and they would
probably one and all of them decline the task.  We know very well
that, laugh at it as we may, our costume will three hundred years
hence be as interesting as that of any other age, but that is not to
the point:  it has got to be effective now, whereas our familiarity
with it has bred contempt.

In the earlier ages both of painting and sculpture these
considerations, obvious as they are, were not taken into account.
The first artists during the medieval revival of art rose as little
to theory as children do.  They found the mere doing at all so
difficult that they were at the mercy in great measure of what they
could get.  The real was as much as, and more than, they could
manage, and they would have idealised long before they did, if they
had not felt the task too much for them.  They could, with infinite
trouble, they hardly knew how, save themselves yet so as by fire and
get a head or figure of some sort that was not quite unlike what it
was meant for, but they could only do this by helping their
unpractised memories to the facts morsel by morsel, treating nature
as though she were a stuffed set piece, getting her to sit as still
for as long a time as she could be persuaded to do, and then going
all over her touch for touch with a brush like the point of a pin.
If the early masters had been able to do all they would have liked to
have done, no doubt they would most of them have been as vulgar as we
are; fortunately their incompetence stood them in good stead and
saved them from becoming the Guidos, Domenichinos, and Guercinos,
that so many of their more competent successors took so much trouble
to become.  Incompetence, if amiable and painstaking, will have with
it an unconscious involuntary idealism of its own which is perhaps
more charming than any that can be attained by aiming at it
deliberately; at any rate it will take the thing portrayed apart from
the everyday familiar routine of life which is the great enemy of
fancy and the ideal; but the artists of the Sacro Monte had got far
beyond the point at which incompetence could be of much use to them,
and had to find some other means whereby to steer clear of the
everyday life which to the public for whom they had to play, would
have appeared so vulgar, and to us so infinitely more delightful than
much that they have actually left us.  These means they could only
find in much the same quarters as dramatic writers and players find
them on the stage, and to a certain extent no doubt the Varallo
chapels, like all other attempts to place a scene upon a stage, must
submit to the charge of being more or less stagey, but--more
especially considering that they are seen by daylight,--it is
surprising how little stagey they are.

Also, like all other attempts to place a scene upon the stage, they
will be found to consist of a few stars, several players of secondary
importance, and a certain number of supers.  It is a mistake to
attempt, as I am told is attempted at the Comedie Francaise, to have
all the actors of first-class merit.  They kill one another even in a
picture, and on the whole in any work of art it is better to
concentrate the main interest on a sufficient number of the most
important figures, and to let the setting off of these be the chief
business of the remainder.  Gaudenzio Ferrari hardly understood this
at all, and has no figures which can be considered as mere stage
accessories.  Tabachetti understood it, but could hardly bring
himself down to the level of his supers.  D'Enrico understood it
perhaps a shade too well; he was a man of business as well as of very
considerable genius, and turned his supers over to Giacomo Ferro, who
might be trusted to keep them sufficiently commonplace to show his
own work to advantage.  It must be owned, however, that the greater
number of D'Enrico's chapels would be better if there had been a
little more D'Enrico in them and less Giacomo Ferro, and if the
D'Enrico had been always taking pains.

We, of course, should have preferred the figures in the Varallo
chapels to be all of them as realistic as the artist could make them,
provided he chose good types, as a good man may be very well trusted
to do.  Whenever we get a bit of realism as in the Eve, and Sleeping
St. Joseph of Tabachetti, in the Herod, laughing boys, and Caiaphas
of D'Enrico, and still more in the Vecchietto, or in the three or
four of the figures in the St. Eusebius Chapel at Crea, we accept it
with avidity, and we may be sure that the masters who gave us the
figures above-named could have given us any number equally realistic
if they had been inclined to do so.  Tabachetti's instinct was
certainly towards realism as far as he dared, but even he is not in
most cases realistic--not, I mean, in the sense of making his
personages actual life-like portraits.  That he was not more so than
he is is probably due to some of the considerations on which I have
above imperfectly dwelt, and to others that have escaped myself, but
were patent enough to him.

One other practical consideration would make against realism in such
works as those at Varallo, I mean the fact that if the figures were
to be portraits of the Varallo celebrities of the time, the whole
place would have been set by the ears in the competition as to who
was to be represented and with what precedence.  It was only by
passing a kind of self-denying ordinance and forbidding portraiture
at all that the work could be carried out.  Here and there, as in the
case of Tabachetti's portrait of the Countess Solomoni of Serravalle
in his Journey to Calvary, or as in that of the Vecchietto (in each
case a supposed benefactress and benefactor) an exception was made;
in most others it seems to have been understood that whatever else
the figures were to be, they must not be portraits.


Before going through the various chapels seriatim, it may be well to
give a short account of three out of the four most interesting
figures among the numerous artists who worked on the Sacro Monte.  By
these I mean, of course, Gaudenzio Ferrari, Tabachetti, Giovanni
d'Enrico, and the sculptor, whoever he may have been, of the Massacre
of the Innocents chapel.  I take my account of Gaudenzio chiefly from
Colombo's admirable work, and from the not less excellent notice by
Signor Tonetti, that appeared in the "Museo Storico ed Artistico
Valsesiano" for July and August 1885.

Gaudenzio Ferrari was born, according to the general belief, in 1484,
but Colombo shows reasons for thinking that this date is some four or
five years too late.  His father was named Antonio Lanfranco or
Franchino. {7}  He too was a painter, but nothing is known of him or
his works beyond the fact that he lived at Valduggia, where his son
Gaudenzio was born, married a woman whose surname was Vinzio, and was
dead by 1510.  Gaudenzio in his early years several times signed his
pictures with his mother's name, calling himself Vincius, De Vincio,
or De Vince.

He is generally said to have studied first under Gerolamo Giovenone
of Vercelli, but this painter was not born till 1491, and we have the
authority of Lomazzo for saying that Gaudenzio's chief instructor was
Stefano Scotto, a painter of Milan, who kept a school that was more
or less a rival to that of Leonardo da Vinci.  I have myself no doubt
that Gaudenzio Ferrari has given Scotto's portrait in at least three
of the works he has left behind him at Varallo, but will return to
this subject when I come to deal with the various places in which
these portraits appear.  His first works of importance, or at least
the earliest that remain to us, are probably in or in the immediate
vicinity of Varallo; but little is known of his early years and work,
beyond what is comprised in the three pages that form the second
chapter of Colombo's book.  There is an early ancona at La Rocca,
near Varallo, another in the parocchia of Gattinara, and possibly a
greatly damaged Pieta in the cloisters of Sta. Maria delle Grazie at
Varallo may be, as it is said to be, an early work by Gaudenzio.
Besides these, the wreck of the frescoes on the Pieta chapel on the
Sacro Monte, and other works on the same site, now lost, belong to
his earlier years.

Some believe that about the year 1506 he travelled to Perugia,
Florence, and Rome, where he made the acquaintance of Raphael, and
perhaps studied under Perugino, but Colombo has shown on what very
slender, if any, grounds this belief is based, and evidently inclines
to the belief that Gaudenzio never went to Rome, nor indeed,
probably, outside Lombardy at all.  The only one of Gaudenzio's works
in which I can myself see anything that may perhaps be called a trace
of Umbrian influence, is in the fresco of Christ disputing with the
Doctors, in the chapel of Sta. Margherita, in the Church of Sta.
Maria delle Grazie at Varallo.  This fresco, as Signor Arienta has
pointed out to me, contains a strong reminiscence of the
architectural background in Raphael's school of Athens; it was
painted--so far as an illegible hieroglyphic signature can be taken
as read, and so far as internal evidence of style may be relied upon,
somewhere about the year.  If Gaudenzio was for the moment influenced
by Raphael, he soon shook off the influence and formed a style of his
own, from which he did not depart, except as enriching and enlarging
his manner with advancing experience.  Moreover, Colombo (p. 75)
points out that the works by Raphael to which Gaudenzio's Disputa is
supposed to present an analogy, were not finished till 1511, and are
hence probably later than Gaudenzio's fresco.  Perhaps both painters
drew from some common source.

In 1508 he was at Vercelli, and on the 26th of July signed a contract
to paint a picture for the church of S. Anna.  He is described in the
deed as "Gaudentius de Varali."  He had by this time married his
first wife, by whom he had two children, Gerolamo and Margherita,
born in 1508 and 1512.  In 1510 he undertook to paint an altarpiece
for the main church at Arona, and completed it in 1511, signing the
work "Magister Gaudentius de Vince, filius quondam magistri
Lanfranchi habitator vallis Siccidae."  In 1513 he painted the
magnificent series of frescoes in the church of Sta. Maria delle
Grazie at Varallo, signing the work and dating it, this time more
legibly than he had done his earlier work in the chapel of St.
Margaret.  In July 1514 he signed a contract to paint an altarpiece
for the Basilica of S. Gaudenzio at Novara.  It was to be completed
within eighteen months from the date of the contract and doubtless
was so, but Gaudenzio found a good deal of difficulty in getting his
money, which was not paid in full till 1521.  He is occasionally met
with at Novara and Vercelli between the years 1515 and 1524, but his
main place of abode was Varallo.

No date can be positively assigned for his great Crucifixion chapel
on the Sacro Monte, but it belongs probably to the years 1524-1528.
I have already said that I can find no dates scrawled on the walls
earlier than 1529.  Such dates may be found yet, but if they are not
found, it may be assumed that the chapel was not thrown open to the
public much before that year.  There is still a little relievo
employed in the fresco background, but not nearly so much as in the
church of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, and the increase of freedom is so
evident that it is difficult not to suppose an interval of a good
many years between the two works.  I gather that by the year 1520
Gaudenzio had abandoned the use of gold and of relievo in painting,
but he may have made an exception in the case of a work which was to
consist both of sculpture and painting; and there is indeed a good
deal to be said in favour of relievo in such a case, as helping to
unite the sculptured and painted portions of the work.  Even in the
Magi chapel, the frescoes of which are several years later than those
in the Crucifixion chapel, there are still a few bosses of relievo in
the horses' trappings.  The date usually assigned to the Crucifixion
chapel is 1524, and, in default of more precise knowledge, we shall
do well to adhere to the date 1524-1528 already suggested.

About 1524 Gaudenzio painted a picture for the Sacristy of the
Cathedral of Novara, and Signor Tonetti says that the very beautiful
picture behind the high altar in the church of S. Gaudenzio at
Varallo is generally assigned to about the same period.  He goes on
to say that in 1526 Gaudenzio was certainly working at his native
village of Valduggia, where, in 1524 or 1525, a chapel had been
erected in honour of S. Rocco, who it was supposed had kept the
Valsesia free from the plague that had devastated other parts of
Italy.  This chapel Gaudenzio decorated with frescoes that have now
disappeared, but whose former existence is recorded in an inscription
placed in 1793, when the chapel was restored.  The inscription runs:
"Quod populus a peste denfensori erigebat an MDXXVI Gaudentius
Ferrarius patritius ex voto pictura decorabat," &c.

In 1528 he transferred his abode to Vercelli, and about the same year
married again.  His second wife was a widow who had a boy of ten
years old by Giovanni Antonio del Olmo, of Bergamo.  Her name was
Maria Mattia della Foppa; she came from Morbegno in the Valtellina,
and was of the same family as Vincenzo Foppa, the reputed founder of
the Milanese school of painting.  In 1532 he married his daughter
Margherita to Domenico Pertegalle, surnamed Festa, of Crevola near
Varallo--he and his son Gerolamo undertaking to give her a dowry of
500 lire imperiale, payable in four years, and secured by mortgage on
Gaudenzio's house in Varallo.

In 1536 he painted the cupola of the church of the Madonna dei
Miracoli at Saronno; he then returned to Vercelli, but his abode and
movements are somewhat obscure till 1539, when it is certain that he
left Varallo for ever, settled in Milan, and died there between the
years 1546 and 1549.  He does not appear to have continued to reside
in Vercelli after 1536; we may perhaps, therefore, think that he
returned for a time to Varallo, and that the frescoes on the Magi
chapel should be given to some date between 1536 and 1539.  They are
certainly several years later than those in the Crucifixion chapel;
but I will return to these frescoes when I come to the Magi chapel

In 1539 he lost his son Gerolamo, and Colombo ascribes his departure
from Varallo to grief; but we cannot forget that in the year 1538
there broke out a violent quarrel between the ecclesiastics of the
Sacro Monte and the lay governors of Varallo.  Fassola says that in
1530 Gio. Ant.  Scarrognini, grandson of Milano Scarrognini, and some
time afterwards Gio. Angiolo Draghetti, were made Fabbricieri.  The
election of this last was opposed by the ecclesiastics, who wished to
see certain persons elected who were already proctors of the convent,
but the Vicini held out, and carried the day.  Party feeling ran so
high, and the Fathers wished to have such absolute control over the
keys of the various money boxes attached to the chapels, and over all
other matters, that it may well have been difficult for Gaudenzio to
avoid coming into collision with one or both of these contending
parties; matters came to a head in the year 1538, and his leaving
Varallo for ever about this time may, perhaps, be referred to his
finding himself in an intolerable position, as well as to the death
of his son; but, however this may be, he sold his house on the 5th of
August, 1539, for seven hundred lire imperiali, and for the rest of
his life resided in Milan, where he executed several important works,
for which I must refer my readers to the pages of Colombo.

The foregoing meagre notice is all that my space allows me to give
concerning the life of this great master.  I will conclude it with a
quotation from Signor Morelli which I take from Sir Henry Layard's
recent edition of Kugler's Handbook of Painting (vol. ii. p. 424).
Signor Morelli is quoted as saying -

"Gaudenzio Ferrari is inferior to very few of his contemporaries, and
occasionally, as in some of those groups of men and women in the
great Crucifixion at Varallo, he might challenge comparison with
Raphael himself."

It would be a bad business for Raphael if he did.  Gaudenzio Ferrari
was what Raphael is commonly believed to have been.  I do not mean,
that he was the prince of painters--such expressions are always
hyperbolical; there has been no prince of painters; I mean that
Gaudenzio Ferrari's feeling was profound, whereas Raphael's was at
best only skin deep.  Nevertheless Signor Morelli is impressed with
Ferrari's greatness, and places him, "for all in all, as regards
inventive genius, dramatic life, and picturesqueness * * far above
Luini."  Bernardino Luini must stand so very high that no one can be
placed far above him; nevertheless, it is hard not to think that
Gaudenzio Ferrari was upon the whole the stronger man.


Great and fascinating as Gaudenzio was, I have already said that I
find Tabachetti a still more interesting figure.  He had all
Gaudenzio's love of beauty, coupled with a robustness, and freedom
from mannerism and self-repetition, that are not always observable in
Gaudenzio's work.  If Gaudenzio has never received anything
approaching to his due meed of praise, Tabachetti may be almost said
never to have been praised at all.  In Varallo, indeed, and its
neighbourhood he is justly regarded as a giant, but the art world
generally knows not so much as his name.  Cicognara, Lubke, and
Perkins know not of his existence, nor of that of Varallo itself, nor
of any Valsesian school of sculpture.  I have shown that so admirable
a writer as Mr. King never even alludes to him, while the most recent
authority of any reputed eminence on Italian art thinks that the
Titan of terra-cotta was a painter and a pupil of Gaudenzio Ferrari.

Zani, indeed, in his "Enciclopedia Metodica," {8} and Nagler in his
"Kunstler Lexicon," {9} to which works my attention was directed by
Mr. Donoghue of the British Museum, both mention Tabachetti.  The
first calls him "bravissimo," but makes him a Novarese, and calls him
"Scultore, plasticalore, Pittore," and "Incisore di stampe a bulino."
The second says that Bartoli (Opp. mor. I. 2), calls him a Flemish
sculptor; that he made forty small chapels and several hermitages at
Crea in the Monferrato district; and that he also worked much at
Varallo.  I have in vain tried to find the passage in Bartoli to
which Nagler refers, and should be much obliged to any one who is
more fortunate if he will give me a fuller reference.  The "Opp.
mor." referred to appears to be a translation of the "Opuscoli
morali" of L. B. Alberti, published at Venice in 1568, which is too
early for Tabachetti.  I have had Bartoli's translation before me,
but could discover nothing.  Nagler's words run:-

"Tabachetti Johann Baptist, nennt Bartoli (Opp. mor. I. 2), einen
Niederlaindischen Bildhauer, ohne seine Lebenzeit zu bestimmen.  In
der Kirche U.L.F. Tu Creo (sic) (Montferrat) stellte er in vierzig
kleinen capellen die Geschichte der heil.  Jungfrau, des Heilandes
und einiger Einsidler dar. Auch in Varallo arbeitete er vieles."

If little is known about Gaudenzio we know still less about
Tabachetti.  I do not believe that more is yet ascertained than I can
give in the next few pages.  His name was Jean Baptiste Tabaquet, and
he came from Dinant in Belgium.  This fact has only come to my
knowledge within the last few weeks, and I have been unable to go to
Dinant and see whether anything can be there made out about him.  I
will thankfully receive any information which any one is good enough
to send me upon this subject.  It is not known when he came to
Varallo, but by the year 1586 his great Calvary chapel was
undoubtedly finished, as also, I imagine, the Adam and Eve, and
Temptation chapels, all three of which are mentioned in the 1586
edition of Caccia.  In the 1590 edition, the abbreviated word
"bellissi." has been added to the description of the Calvary chapel,
as though it were an oversight in the earlier edition to take no note
of the remarkable excellence of the work:  there can be no doubt,
therefore, that Bordiga and the other principal authorities are wrong
in dating this chapel 1606.  How much earlier it may be than 1586 I
cannot determine till the missing editions of Caccia are found, but
there is not enough other work of Tabachetti's on the Sacro Monte to
let us suppose that he had worked there for very many years.

Both Fassola and Torrotti say that he began the Visit of Mary to
Elizabeth, but went mad, leaving the work to be completed by another
artist.  It was generally supposed that this was the end of him, but
there can be no doubt that, if ever he went mad at all, it was only
for a short time, as a consequence of over-fatigue, and perhaps
worry, over his gigantic work, the Journey to Calvary chapel.  That
he was either absent from Varallo, or at Varallo but unable to work,
between the years 1586 and 1590, is certain, for, in the first place,
there is no work on the Sacro Monte that can possibly be given to him
during these years, and in the second, if he had been available,
considering the brilliant success of his Calvary chapel, the Massacre
of the Innocents, which dates from 1586-1590, would surely have been
entrusted to him, instead of to Rossetti or Bargnola--whichever of
these two is the rightful sculptor.  Nevertheless it is certain that
after the end of 1589, to which date the edition of Caccia appears by
its preface to belong, Tabachetti reappeared in full force, did one
chapel of extreme beauty--the first Vision of St. Joseph--and nothing
more--unless indeed the Vecchietto be assigned to this date.  We know
this, inasmuch as the First Vision of St. Joseph chapel is not
mentioned at all in either the 1586 or 1590 editions of Caccia, and
was evidently not yet even contemplated, whereas the Visit of Mary to
Elizabeth, over which he is supposed to have gone mad, is given in
both as completed.

Tabachetti was summoned to Crea in 1591, and was buying land and
other property in 1600, 1602, 1604, 1605, 1606, and 1608, at
Serralunga, close to Crea, where deeds which still exist say that he
resided.  There are many families named Tabachetti still living in
the immediate neighbourhood of Serralunga, who are doubtless
descended from the sculptor.  After 1608 nothing more is known of
him.  At Varallo, over and above his work on the Sacro Monte, there
is an exceedingly beautiful Madonna by him, in the parish church of
S. Gaudenzio, and one head of a man with a ruff--a mere fragment--
which Cav. Prof. Antonini showed me in the Museum, and assured me was
by Tabachetti.  I know of no other work by him except what remains at
Crea, about which I will presently write more fully.  I am not,
however, without hope that search about Liege and Dinant may lead to
the discovery of some work at present overlooked, and, as I have
said, will thankfully receive information.

I will conclude with a note taken from p. 47 of Part I. of Cav.
Alessandro Godio's admirable "Cronaca di Crea." {10}

The note runs:-

"The present writer found himself involved in a long dispute, through
having entered the lists against the Valsesian writers, who reckon
Tabachetti among the distinguished sons of the Val Sesia, and for
having said that he was born in Flanders.  After a more successful
search in the above-named [Vercelli?] archive, under the letter B No.
6, over and above the deeds of 1600 and 1606, already referred to in
the 'Vesillo della liberta,' No. 39, Sept. 5, 1863, I found, under
numbers 308, 417, 498, 622, of the unarranged papers of Notary
Teodoro Caligaris, four more deeds dated 1602, 1604, 1605, 1608, in
which the Sculptor Gio. Battista Tabachetti is not only described as
a Fleming, but his birthplace is given as follows:  "Vendidit,
tradidit nobili Joanni Tabacheta filio quondam nobili Gulielmi de
Dinante de Liesa [Liege] nunc incola Serralungae."  Since, then, he
was buying considerable property at Serralunga during the above-named
year, it is plain that he did not work continuously at Varallo from
1590 to 1606, as contended by the Valsesian writers quoted by An.
Cav. Carlo Dionisotti, the distinguished author of the Valle Sesia.
Moreover, from the year 1590 and onward the chapels of Crea were
begun, and of these, by advice of Monsignor Tullio del Carretto,
Bishop of Casale, at the bidding of Michel Angelo da Liverno, who was
Vicar of Crea, Tabachetti designed not fifteen but forty, and found
himself at the head of the direction of the great work that was then
engaging the attention of the foremost Italian artists of the day."


For my account of Giovanni D'Enrico I turn to Signor Galloni's
"Uomini e fatti celebri di Valle Sesia."  He was second of three
brothers, Melchiorre, Giovanni, and Antonio, commonly called Tanzio,
who were born at the German-speaking village of Alagna, that stands
at the head of the Val Sesia.  Signor Galloni says that the elder
brother, Melchiorre, painted the frescoes in the Temptation chapel in
1594, and the Last Judgment on the facciata of the parish church at
Riva in 1597.

The house occupied by the family of D'Enrico was, as I gather from a
note communicated to Signor Galloni by Cav. Don Farinetti of Alagna,
in the fraction of Alagna called Giacomolo, where a few years ago a
last descendant of the family was still residing.  The house is of
wood, old and black with smoke; on the wooden gallery or lobby that
runs in front of it, and above the low and narrow doorways, there is
an inscription or verse of the Bible, "Allein Gott Ehere," dated
1609.  The small oratory hard by is said to have been also the
property of the D'Enrico family, and in the ancona of the little
altar there is a picture representing the Virgin of not
inconsiderable merit, with a beautiful gilded frame in excellent
preservation.  On the background of this picture there is the stemma
of the D'Enrico family, and an inscription in Latin bearing the names
of John and Eva D'Enrico.

The exact dates of the births of the three brothers are unknown, but
the eldest and youngest were described in a certificate of good
character, dated February 11, 1600, as "juvenes bonae vocis,
conditionis et famae," so that if we assume Melchiorre to have been
born in 1575, {11} Giovanni in 1580, and Antonio in 1585, we shall,
in no case, be more than five years or so in error.  I own to being
able to see little merit in any of Melchiorre's work, of which the
reader will find a sample in the frescoes behind the old Adam and
Eve, which is given to face p. 121, but it is believed that he for
the most part painted the terra-cotta figures, rather than
backgrounds.  Nor do I like the work of Tanzio--which may be seen,
perhaps, to the best advantage in the Herod chapel.  Tanzio, however,
was a stronger man than Melchiorre.  Giovanni was incomparably the
ablest of the three brothers, and it is to him alone that I will ask
the reader to devote attention.

Signor Galloni calls Giovanni D'Enrico a pupil of Tabachetti,
probably following Bordiga, but I have not seen the evidence on which
this generally received opinion is based; Tabachetti had finally left
Varallo by 1591, when Giovanni D'Enrico was little more than a child,
and though he may have been sent to work under Tabachetti at Crea, I
have not come across anything to show this was so.  He was an
architect as well as sculptor, and is believed to have made the
modification of Pellegrino Tibaldi's designs that was ultimately
adopted for the Palazzo di Pilato, Caiaphas, and Herod chapels.  He
was also architect of the Chiesa Maggiore on the Sacro Monte, his
design having been approved April 1, 1614.  He is believed to have
done a Madonna and child, a St. Rocco, and a St. Sebastian in the
parish church at Alagna; he also sent many figures away, some of
which may possibly be found in the disused chapels of Graglia, if
indeed these contain anything at all.  He died at Montrigone near
Borgosesia in 1644, while superintending the work of his pupil and
collaborateur Giacomo Ferro, who, it is said, has placed his master's
portrait near the bed of S. Anna in his chapel of the Birth of the
Virgin (?) at Montrigone.  Others say that the figure in question
does not represent D'Enrico, and that his portrait is found in a
niche in the chapel itself, but Signor Galloni assures us that there
is nothing but tradition in favour of either view.  Giacomo Ferro
appears to have been his only pupil and his only collaborateur.
There can, I think, be little doubt that the greater part of the work
generally ascribed to D'Enrico is really by Giacomo Ferro, and the
uncertainty as to what figures are actually by D'Enrico himself makes
it very difficult to form a just opinion about his genius.  Some
chapels are given to him, as for example the Flagellation and
Crowning with Thorns, which are mentioned as completed in the 1586
edition of Caccia, when D'Enrico was at most a child.  True, he may
have remodelled these chapels, but I have not yet met with evidence
that he actually did so, though I dare say such evidence may exist
without my knowing it.

In those in which he was undoubtedly assisted by Giacomo Ferro, as
for example the Caiaphas, Herod, four Pilate, and Nailing to the
Cross chapels, with possibly the Ecce Homo, perhaps the safest rule
will be to give the few really excellent figures that are to be found
in each of them to D'Enrico himself and to ascribe all the inferior
work, of which unfortunately there is too much, to Giacomo Ferro.
That the assistance rendered by him was on a very large scale may be
gathered from the fact that there was a deed drawn up between him and
his master whereby he was to receive half the money that was paid to
D'Enrico,--a quasi partnership indeed seems to have existed between
the two sculptors.  This deed is referred to by Signor Galloni on
page 178 of his "Uomini e Fatti," and on the same page he gives us an
extract from a lawsuit between Giacomo Ferro and the town of Varallo
which gives us a curious insight into the manner in which the artists
of the Sacro Monte were paid.  From a proces-verbal in connection
with this suit Signor Galloni quotes the following extract:-

"And further the said deputies allege that in the accounts rendered
by the said master Giovanni D'Enrico in respect of the pontifical
thrones in the Caiaphas and Nailing to the Cross chapels, these have
been valued at the rate of four statues for each several throne and
horse, whereas it appears from old accounts rendered by other
statuaries that they have been hitherto charged only at the rate of
three statues for each throne and horse.  Wherefore the said deputies
claim to deduct the overcharge of one statue for each horse and
throne, which being thirteen at the rate of 10 and a quarter scudi
for each figure, would give a total deduction of 132 and a half

It appears in another part of the same proces-verbal that Giovanni
D'Enrico had been paid in 1640 the sum of 4240 lire and 8 soldi.

Giacomo Ferro and his brother Antonio were Giovanni D'Enrico's heirs,
from which it would appear that he either died unmarried, or left no

To say that D'Enrico will compare with Tabachetti would be an obvious
exaggeration, and, indeed, there are only very few figures on the
Sacro Monte about which we can feel certain that they are by him at
all.  The Caiaphas, Herod, Laughing Boys in the Herod chapel, and the
Man with the Two Children in the Ecce Homo chapel cannot, I think, be
given to any one else, but at this moment I do not call to mind more
than some fourteen or fifteen figures out of the three hundred or so
that are ascribed to him, about which we can be as certain that they
are by D'Enrico as we can be that most of those given to Tabachetti
and Gaudenzio are actually by them.  For not only have we to reckon
with Giacomo Ferro, who, if he had half the pay, we may be sure did
not less than half the figures, and probably very much more, but we
must reckon with the figures taken from older chapels when
reconstructed, as in D'Enrico's time was the case with several.  What
became of the figures in Gaudenzio Ferrari's original Journey to
Calvary chapel, and in other works by him that were cancelled when
the Palazzo di Pilato chapel was built?  It is not likely they were
destroyed if by any hook or crook they could be made to do duty in
some other shape; more probably they are most of them still existing
up and down D'Enrico's various chapels, but so doctored, if the
expression may be pardoned, that Gaudenzio himself would not know
them.  In the Ecce Homo chapel we can say with confidence that the
extreme figure to the left is by Gaudenzio, and has been taken from
some one of his chapels now lost; we are able to detect this by an
accident, but there are other figures in the same chapel and not a
few elsewhere, about which we can have no confidence that they have
not been taken from some earlier chapel either by Gaudenzio or some
one else.  What, then, with these figures, and what with Giacomo
Ferro, it is not easy to say what D'Enrico did or did not do.

The intercalated figures have been fitted into the work with
admirable skill, nevertheless they do not form part of design, and
make it want the unity observable in the work of Tabachetti and
Gaudenzio.  They have been lugged into the composition, and no matter
how skilful their introduction, are soon felt, as in the case of the
Vecchietto, to have no business where they are.  Moreover, D'Enrico
shows his figures off, which Tabachetti never does:  the result is
that in his chapels each figure has its attention a good deal drawn
to the desirableness of neither being itself lost sight of, nor
impeding the view of its neighbours.  This is fatal, and though
Giacomo Ferro is doubtless more practically guilty in the matter than
D'Enrico, yet D'Enrico is the responsible author of the work, and
must bear the blame accordingly.  Standing once with Signor Pizetta
of Varallo, before D'Enrico's great Nailing of Christ to the Cross
chapel, I asked him casually how he thought it compared with
Tabachetti's Journey to Calvary.  He replied "Questo non sacrifica
niente," meaning that Tabachetti thought of the action much and but
little of whether or no the actors got in each other's way, whereas
D'Enrico was mainly bent on making his figures steer clear of one
another.  Thus his chapels want the concert and unity of action that
give such life to Tabachetti's.  Nevertheless, in spite of the defect
above referred to, it is impossible to deny that the sculptor of the
Herod and Caiaphas figures was a man of very rare ability, nor can
the general verdict which assigns him the third place among the
workers on the Sacro Monte be reasonably disputed.  But this third
place must be given rather in respect of quantity than quality, for
in dramatic power and highly-wrought tragic action he is inferior to
the sculptor, whoever he may be, of the Massacre of the Innocents
chapel, to which I will return when I come to the chapel in question.

I may say in passing that Cicognara, Lubke, and Perkins have all
omitted to mention Giovanni D'Enrico as a sculptor, though Nagler
mentions his two brothers as painters.  Nagler gives the two brothers
D'Enrico as all bearing the patronymic Tanzio, which I am told is in
reality only a corruption of the Christian name of the third brother.
Zani mentions Giovanni D'Enrico as well as his two brothers, and
calls him "celebre," but he calls all the three brothers "Tanzii,
Tanzi, Tanzio, or Tanzo."


The ascent to the Sacro Monte begins immediately after the church of
Sta. Maria delle Grazie has been passed, and is made by a large broad
road paved with rounded stones, and beautifully shaded by the
chestnuts that grow on the steep side of the mountain.  The old road
up the mountain was below the present, and remains of it may yet be
seen.  Ere long a steeper narrower road branches off to the right
hand, which makes rather a shorter cut, and is commonly called the
"Strada della Madonna."  From this name it has become generally
believed that the Madonna once actually came to Varallo to see the
Sacro Monte, and took this shorter road.  There is no genuine
tradition, however, to this effect, and the belief may be traced to
misapprehension of a passage in Fassola and Torrotti, who say that
the main road represents the path taken by Christ himself on his
journey to Calvary, while the other symbolises the short cut taken by
the Virgin when she went to rejoin him after his resurrection.  When
he was Assistente, which I gather to have been much what the Director
of the Sacro Monte is now, Torrotti had some poetry put up to say

At the point where the two roads again meet there is a large wooden
cross, from which the faithful may help themselves to a chip.  That
they do get chips is evident by the state of the cross, but the wood
is hard, and none but the very faithful will get so much but that
plenty will be left for those who may come after them.  I saw a stout
elderly lady trying to get a chip last summer; she was baffled,
puzzled, frowned a good deal, and was perspiring freely.  She tried
here, and she tried there, but could get no chip; and presently began
to cry.  Jones and I had been watching her perplexity, as we came up
the Strada della Madonna, and having a stouter knife than hers
offered to help her.  She was most grateful, when, not without
difficulty, Jones succeeded in whittling for her a piece about an
inch long, and as thick as the wood of a match box.  "Per Bacco," she
exclaimed, still agitated, and not without asperity, "I never saw
such a cross in my life."  The old cross, considered to be now past
further whittling, was lying by the roadside ready to be taken away.
I had wanted to get the lady a chip from this, thinking it looked as
if it would lend itself more easily to the design, but she said it
would not do.  They have a new cross every year, and they always
select a hard knotty uncompromising piece of wood for the purpose.
The old is then taken away and burnt for firewood.

Of this cross Fassola says it was here ("e qui fu dove") the Virgin
met her son, and that for this reason a small chapel was placed
rather higher up, which represents the place where she took a little
rest, and was hence called the Capella del Riposo.  It was decorated
with frescoes by Gaudenzio, which have long since disappeared; these
were early works, and among the first undertaken by him on the Sacro
Monte; the chapel remains, but may, and probably will, be passed
without notice.  A little higher still, there is another very small
and unimportant chapel containing a decayed St. Jerome by Giovanni
D'Enrico, and above this, facing the visitor at the last turn of the
road, is the chapel erected in memory of Cesare Maio, or Maggi, a
Neapolitan, Marquis of Moncrivelli, and one of Charles the Fifth's
generals.  He died in 1568.  Many years before his death he had
commanded an armed force against the Valsesians, but when his horse,
on approaching Varallo, caught sight of the Sacro Monte, it
genuflected three times and pawed a great cross on the road with its
feet.  This had such an effect upon the rider that he had
thenceforward to become a munificent benefactor of the Sacro Monte,
and expressly desired to be buried there.  I do not know where the
horse was buried.  His chapel contains nothing of importance, nor yet
does the small oratory with a crucifix in memory of a benefactor, one
Giovanni Pschel Alemanno; this is at the top of the ascent and close
to the smaller entrance to the Sacro Monte.

At this smaller entrance the visitor will be inclined to enter, but
he should not do so if he wishes to take the chapels in the order in
which they are numbered.  He should continue the broad road until he
reaches the excellent inn kept by Signor Topini, and the shops where
"corone" and pilgrims' beads are sold.  The inn and shops are
mentioned by Fassola and by Torrotti.  Fassola in 1671 says of the
inn that it will afford accommodation for people of all ranks, and
that though any one with other curiosity may stay in the town, those
who would enjoy their devotion quietly and diffusively can do so more
at their ease here.  Of the shops he says that they sell "corone,
Storie della Fabrica," "and other like instruments of devotion" ("ed
altri instromenti simili di divozione" p. 80).  Torrotti says they
sell his book there, with images, and various devout curiosities (e
varie cose curiose di divozione, p. 66).  The shutters are strong and
probably the original ones.

At Varese there is a very beautiful lady, one among many others
hardly if at all less beautiful on the same mountain, of whom I once
asked what people did with these Corone.  She said, "Le adoperano per
pregare," "They make use of them to pray with."  She then asked
whether the English ever prayed.  I said of course they did; that all
nations, even the Turks, prayed.  "E Turco lei?" she said, with a
singularly sweet, kind, and beneficent expression.  I said I was not,
but I do not think she believed me.

Passing now under the handsome arch which forms the main entrance to
the sacred precincts we come to


This chapel is perhaps the only one in the case of which Pellegrino
Tibaldi's design was carried out; and even here it has been in many
respects modified.  The figures are by Tabachetti; and the original
internal frescoes were by Domenico Alfani Perugino, but they have
perished and have lately been replaced by some pieces from the life
of Adam and Eve by Professor Burlazzi of Varallo.  The outer frescoes
are said by Bordiga to be by Giovanni Miel of Antwerp, but they are
probably in reality by one of the brothers Battista and Gio. Mauro
Rovere.  I will, however, reserve remarks on this subject until I
come to the Massacre of the Innocents chapel.  The original frescoes
do not appear to have been executed till 1594-1600, but the terra-
cotta work is described as complete in the 1586 edition of Caccia in
terms that leave no doubt but that the present group is intended; it
is probably among the first works executed by Tabachetti on the Sacro
Monte, but how much earlier it is than 1586 cannot be known till the
missing editions of Caccia are found.  That he did the Adam and Eve
is not doubted.  If he also did the animals, he had made great
progress by the time he came to the Temptation chapel, for the
animals in this last chapel are far finer than those in the Adam and
Eve chapel.

The present chapel superseded an earlier one with the same subject,
which was probably on the site now occupied by the Crowning with
Thorns, inasmuch as in this chapel the fresco on one wall still
represents Adam and Eve being dismissed from Paradise.  Signor
Arienta pointed this out to me, and I think it sufficiently
determines the position of the original Adam and Eve chapel.  The
evidence for the existence of the earlier chapel throws so much light
upon the way in which figures have been shifted about and whole
chapels have disappeared, leaving only an incidental trace or two
behind them in some other of those now existing, that I shall not
hesitate to reproduce it here.

We were told in the town that there had been an old Adam and an old
Eve, and that these two figures were now doing duty as Roman soldiers
in chapel No. 23, which represents the Capture of Christ.  On
investigation, we found, against the wall, two figures dressed as
Roman soldiers that evidently had something wrong with them.  The
draperies of all the other figures are painted, either terra-cotta or
wood, but with these two they are real, being painted linen or
calico, dipped in thin mortar or plaster of Paris, and real drapery
always means that the figure has had something done to it.  The
armour, where armour shows, is not quite of the same pattern as that
painted on the other figures, nor is it of the same make; in the case
of the remoter figure it does not go down far enough, and leaves a
lucid interval of what was evidently once bare stomach, but has now
been painted the brightest blue that could be found, so that it does
not catch the eye as flesh; a little further examination was enough
to make us strongly suspect that the figures had both been originally
nude, and in this case the story current in Varallo was probably

Then the question arose, which was Adam, and which Eve?  The farther
figure was the larger and therefore ought to have been Adam, but it
had long hair, and looked a good deal more like a woman than the
other did.  The nearer figure had a beard and moustaches, and was
quite unlike a woman; true, we could see no sign of bosom with the
farther figure, but neither could we with the nearer.  On the whole,
therefore, we settled it that the nearer and moustached soldier was
Adam, and the more distant long-haired beardless one, Eve.  In the
evening, however, Cav. Prof. Antonini and several of the other best
Varallo authorities were on the Sacro Monte, and had the grating
removed so that we could get inside the chapel, which we were not
slow to do.  The state of the drapery showed that curiosity had been
already rife upon the subject, and, observing this, Jones and I
gently lifted as much of it as was necessary, and put the matter for
ever beyond future power of question that the farther, long-haired,
beardless figure was Adam, and the nearer, moustached one, Eve.  They
are now looking in the same direction, as joining in the hue and cry
against Christ, but were originally turned towards one another; the
one offering, and the other taking, the apple.

Tabachetti's Eve, in the Creation or Adam and Eve chapel, is a figure
of remarkable beauty, and a very great improvement on her
predecessor.  The left arm is a restoration by Cav. Prof. Antonini,
but no one who was not told of the fact would suspect it.  The heads
both of the Adam and the Eve have been less successfully repainted
than the rest of the figures, and have suffered somewhat in
consequence, but the reader will note the freedom from any approach
to barocco maintained throughout the work.  The serpent is
exceedingly fine, and the animals are by no means unpleasing.
Speaking for myself, I have found the work continually grow upon me
during the many years I have known it.

The walls of this, and, indeed, of all the chapels, were once covered
with votive pictures recording the Grazie with which each several
chapel should be credited, but these generally pleasing, though
perhaps sometimes superstitious, minor satellites of the larger
artistic luminaries have long since disappeared.  It is plain that
either the chapels are losing their powers of bringing the Grazie
about, or that we moderns care less about saying "thank you" when we
have been helped out of a scrape than our forefathers did.  Fassola

"Molti oltre questa non mancano di lasciar qualche insigne memoria,
cioe o li dinari per incominciar, o finire qualche Capella, o per
qualche pittura o Statua, o altro non essendouene pur' vno di questi
Benefattori, che non habbino ottenute le grazie desiderate di Dio, e
dalla Beata Vergine, del che piene ne sono le carte, le mura delle
Capelle, e Chiese con voti d'argento, ed altre infinite Tauolette,
antichissime, e moderne, voti di cera ed altro, oltre tanto da
esprimersi grazie, che o per pouerta, o per mancanza, o per altri
pensieri de' graziati restano celate."

For my own part I am sorry that these humble chronicles of three
centuries or so of hairbreadth escapes are gone.  Votive pictures
have always fascinated me.  Everything does go so dreadfully wrong in
them, and yet we know it will all be set so perfectly right again
directly, and that nobody will be really hurt.  Besides, they are so
naive, and free from "high-falutin;" they give themselves no airs,
are not review-puffed, and the people who paint them do not call one
another geniuses.  They are business-like, direct, and sensible; not
unfrequently they acquire considerable historical interest, and every
now and then there is one by an old master born out of due time--who
probably wist not so much as even that there were old masters.  Here,
if anywhere, may be found smouldering, but still living, embers of
the old art-fire of Italy, and from these, more readily than from the
hot-bed atmosphere of the academies, may the flame be yet rekindled.
Lastly, if allowed to come as they like, and put themselves where
they will, they grow into a pretty, quilt-like, artlessly-arranged
decoration, that will beat any mere pattern contrived of set purpose.
Some half-dozen or so of the old votive pictures are still preserved
in the Museum at Varallo, and are worthy of notice, one or two of
them dating from the fifteenth century, and a few late autumn leaves,
as it were, of images in wax still hang outside the Crowning with
Thorns chapel, but the chapels are, for the most part, now without
them.  Each chapel was supposed to be beneficial in the case of some
particular bodily or mental affliction, and Fassola often winds up
his notice with a list of the Graces which are most especially to be
hoped for from devotion at the chapel he is describing; he does not,
however, ascribe any especial and particular Grace to the first few
chapels.  A few centesimi and perhaps a soldo or two still lie on the
floor, thrown through the grating by pilgrims, and the number of
these which any chapel can attract may be supposed to be a fair test
of its popularity.  These centesimi are a source of temptation to the
small boys of Varallo, who are continually getting into trouble for
extracting them by the help of willow wands and birdlime.  I
understand that when the centesimi are picked up by the authorities,
some few are always left, on the same principle as that on which we
leave a nest egg in a hen's nest for the hen to lay a new one to; a
very little will do, but even the boys know that there must be a germ
of increment left, and when they stole the coppers from the Ecce Homo
chapel not long since, they still left one centesimo and a waistcoat
button on the floor.


This was one of the earliest chapels, and is dated by Fassola as from
1490 to 1500.  There is no record of any contemporary fresco
background.  Bordiga says that these figures were originally in the
chapel now occupied by the Salutation of Mary by Elizabeth, but that
having been long objects of popular veneration they were preserved at
the time when Tabachetti took this block of buildings in hand.  It
does not appear from any source what figures were in this chapel
before the Annunciation figures were brought here; possibly, as it is
supposed to be a reproduction of the Santa Casa di Loreto, this was
considered enough and it was untenanted.  Bordiga says, "The faces
and extremities have a divine expression and are ancient," but both
Fassola and Torrotti say that Tabachetti gave the figures new heads.
These last are probably right; the Virgin has real drapery, which, as
I have said, always means that the figure has been cut about.

Whatever the change was, it had been effected before the publication
of the 1586 edition of Caccia, where the chapel is described, in
immediate sequence to the Adam and Eve chapel, and in the following

"Si vede poi un poco discosto, un altro Tempio, fatto ad imitatione
della Cappella di Loreto, ben adornato, dove e l'Angelo che annontia
l' incarnatione . . . . di relievo."

In the poetical part of the same book the figures are very warmly
praised, as, indeed, they deserve to be.  Fassola and Torrotti both
say that the Virgin was a very favourite figure--so much so that
pilgrims had loaded her with jewels.  One night, a thief tried to
draw a valuable ring from her finger, when she dealt him a stunning
box on the ear that stretched him senseless until he was apprehended
and punished.  Fassola says of the affair:-

"Fra gl' altri e degna di racconto la mortificazione hauuta da vn
peruerso, che fatto ardito, non so da quale spirito diabolico,
volendo rubbare alcune di dette gioie, e forsi tutte, dalle mani
della Beata Vergine fu reso immobile da vna guanciata della Vergine
fin' a tanto, che la giustizia l' hebbe nella sua braccia; contempli
ogn' vno questa Statua, che ne riportera mosso il cuore."

Under the circumstances I should say he had better contemplate her at
a respectful distance.  I can believe that the thief was very much
mortified, but the Virgin seems to have been a good deal mortified
too, for I suspect her new head was after this occurrence and not
before it.

Such miracles are still of occasional if not frequent occurrence in
connection with the Sacro Monte.  I have a broadside printed at Milan
in 1882 in which a full account is given of a recent miracle worked
by the Blessed Virgin of the Sacro Monte of Varallo.  It is about a
young man who had been miraculously cured of a lingering illness that
had baffled the skill of all the most eminent professors; so his
father sent him with a lamp of gold and a large sum of money which he
was to offer to the Madonna.  As he was on his way he felt tired [it
must be remembered that the railway was not opened till 1886], so he
sat down under a tree and began to amuse himself by counting the
treasure.  Hardly had he begun to count when he was attacked by four
desperate assassins, who with pistols and poignards did their very
utmost to despoil him, but it was not the smallest use.  One of the
assassins was killed, and the others were so cowed that they
promised, if he would only fetch them some "devotions" from the Sacro
Monte, to abandon their evil courses and thenceforth lead virtuous

We do not pitch our tracts quite so strongly, but need give ourselves
no airs in this matter.


The walls of this chapel according to Fassola are old, but the
figures all new.  Both Fassola and Torrotti say that Tabachetti had
just begun to work on this chapel when he lost his reason, but as the
work is described as complete in the 1586 edition of Caccia, it is
evident, as I have already shown, that his insanity was only
temporary, inasmuch as he did another chapel after 1590.  Both
writers are very brief in their statement of the fact, Fassola only
saying "quando era diuenuto pazzo," and Torrotti "impazzitosi."  The
fresco background is meagre and forms no integral part of the design;
this does not go for much, but suggests that in the original state of
the chapel, which we know was an early one, there may have been but
little background, the fresco background not having yet attained its
full development.  The figures would doubtless look better than they
do if they had not been loaded with many coats of shiny paint, which
has clogged some of the modelling; they are not very remarkable, but
improve upon examination, and it must be remembered that the subject
is one of exceeding difficulty.


Fassola and Torrotti say that this chapel was originally a servant's
lodge ("ospizio delli serui della Fabrica"), and part of the building
is still used as a store-room.  The servants were subsequently
shifted to what was then the chapel of the Capture of Christ, the
figures in that chapel being moved to the one in which they are now.
The original Capture chapel was on the ground floor of the large
house that stands on the right hand as one enters the small entrance
to the Sacro Monte which a visitor will be tempted to take, opposite
Giovanni Pschel's chapel, and a little below the Temptation chapel.

The First Vision of St. Joseph is not mentioned in either the 1586 or
1590 editions of Caccia; we may therefore be certain that it did not
exist, and may also be sure that it was Tabachetti's last work upon
the Sacro Monte--for that it is by him has never been disputed.  It
should probably be dated early in 1591, by which time Tabachetti must
have recovered his reason and was on the point of leaving Varallo for
ever.  I give a photograph of the very beautiful figure of St.
Joseph, which must rank among the finest on the Sacro Monte.  I grant
that a sleeping figure is the easiest of all subjects, except a dead
one, inasmuch as Nature does not here play against the artist with
loaded dice, by being able to give the immediate change of position
which the artist cannot.  With sleep and death there is no change
required, so that the hardest sleeping figure is easier than the
easiest waking one; moreover, sleep is so touching and beautiful that
it is one of the most taking of all subjects; nevertheless there are
sleeping figures and sleeping figures, and the St. Joseph in the
chapel we are considering is greatly better than the second sleeping
St. Joseph in chapel No. 9, by whomsoever this figure may be--or than
the sleeping Apostles by D'Enrico in chapel No. 22.

Cusa says that the Madonna is taken from a small figure modelled by
Gaudenzio still existing at Valduggia in the possession of the
Rivaroli family.  She is a very pretty and graceful figure, and is
sewing on a pillow in the middle of the composition--of course
unmoved by the presence of the angel, who is only visible to her
husband.  The angel is also a remarkably fine figure.



Fassola says that this chapel was begun about the year 1500, and
completed about 1520, at the expense of certain wealthy Milanese;
Torrotti repeats this.  Bordiga gives it a later date, making
Gaudenzio begin to work in it in 1531; he supposes that Gaudenzio
left Varallo suddenly in that year to undertake work for the church
of St. Cristoforo at Vercelli without quite completing the Magi
frescoes; and it is indeed true that the frescoes appear to be
unfinished, some parts at first sight seeming only sketched in
outline, as though the work had been interrupted; but Colombo, whose
industry is only equalled by his fine instinct and good sense, refers
both the frescoes and their interruption to a later date.  Still,
Fassola may have only intended, and indeed probably did intend, that
the shell of the building was completed by 1520, the figures and
frescoes being deferred for want of funds, though the building was
ready for occupation.

Colombo, on page 115 of his "Life and Work of Gaudenzio Ferrari,"
says that Bordiga remarked the obvious difference in style between
the frescoes in the Magi and the Crucifixion chapels, which he held
to have been completed in 1524, but nevertheless thought seven years
the utmost that passed between the two works.  Colombo shows that by
1528 Gaudenzio was already established at Vercelli, and ascribes the
frescoes in the Magi chapel to a date some time between 1536 and
1539, during which time he believes that Gaudenzio returned to
Varallo, finding no trace of him elsewhere.  The internal evidence in
support of this opinion is strong, for the Crucifixion chapel is not
a greater advance upon the frescoes in the church of St. Maria delle
Grazie, painted in 1513, magnificent as these last are, than the Magi
frescoes are upon the Crucifixion, and an interval of ten years or so
is not too much to allow between the two.  Gaudenzio Ferrari was like
Giovanni Bellini, a slow but steady grower from first to last; with
no two painters can we be more sure that as long as they lived they
were taking pains, and going on from good to better; nevertheless, it
takes many years before so wide a difference can be brought about, as
that between the frescoes in the Magi and Crucifixion chapels.  The
Magi frescoes have, however, unfortunately suffered from damp much
more than the Crucifixion ones, and I should say they had been a good
deal retouched, but by a very capable artist.

Colombo thinks that in these frescoes Gaudenzio was assisted by his
son Gerolamo, who died in 1539, and, as I have said, holds that it
was the death of this son which made him leave Varallo, without even
finishing the frescoes on which he was engaged.

But Signor Arienta assures me that the frescoes were not in reality
left incomplete:  he holds that the wall on the parts where the
outline shows was too dry when the colour was laid on, and that it
has gradually gone, leaving the outline only.  This, he tells me, not
unfrequently happens, and has occurred in one or two places even in
the Crucifixion chapel, where an arm here and there appears
unfinished.  The parts in the Magi chapel that show the outline only
are not likely to have been left to the last; they come in a very
random haphazard way, and I have little hesitation in accepting
Signor Arienta's opinion.  If, however, this is wrong and the work
was really unfinished, I should ascribe this fact to the violent
dissensions that broke out in 1538, and should incline towards using
it as an argument for assigning this date to the frescoes themselves,
more especially as it fits in with whatever other meagre evidence we

Something went wrong with the funds destined for the erection of this
chapel, and this may account for the length of time taken to erect
the chapel itself, as well as for subsequent delay in painting it and
filling it with statues.  In the earlier half of his work Fassola
says that certain Milanese gentlemen, "Signori della Castellanza,"
subscribed two hundred gold scudi with which to found the chapel, but
that the money was in part diverted to other uses--"a matter," he
says, "about which I am compelled to silence by a passage in my
preface;" this passage is the expression of a desire to avoid giving
offence; but Fassola says the interception of the funds involved the
chapel's "remaining incomplete for some time."  There seems, in fact,
to have been some serious scandal in connection with the money, about
which, even after 150 years, Fassola was unwilling to speak.

I would ask the reader to note in passing that in this work, high up
on the spectator's right, Gaudenzio has painted some rocks with a
truth which was in his time rare.  In the earliest painting, rocks
seem to have been considered hopeless, and were represented by a
something like a mould for a jelly or blanc-mange; yet rocks on a
grey day are steady sitters, and one would have thought the early
masters would have found them among the first things that they could
do, whereas on the contrary they were about the last to be rendered
with truth and freedom by the greatest painters.  This was probably
because rocks bored them; they thought they could do them at any
time, and were more interested with the figures, draperies, and
action.  Leonardo da Vinci's rocks, for example, are of no use to any
one, nor yet for the matter of that is any part of his landscape--
what little there is of it.  Holbein's strong hand falls nerveless
before a rock or mountain side, and even Marco Basaiti, whose
landscape has hardly been surpassed by Giovanni Bellini himself,
could not treat a rock as he treated other natural objects.  As for
Giovanni Bellini, I do not at this moment remember to have seen him
ever attempt a bit of slate, or hard grey gritty sandstone rock.
This is not so with Gaudenzio, his rocks in the Magi chapel, and
again in the Pieta compartment of his fresco in the church of St.
Maria delle Grazie, at the foot of the mountain, are as good as rocks
need ever be.  The earliest really good rocks I know are in the small
entombment by Roger Van der Weyden in our own National Gallery.

Returning to the terra-cotta figures in the Magi chapel, there is
nothing about them to find fault with, but they do not arouse the
same enthusiasm as the frescoes.  They too are sufferers by damp and
lapse of time, and a painted terra-cotta figure does not lend itself
to a dignified decay.  The disjecti membra poetae are hard to
recognise if painted terra-cotta is the medium through which
inspiration has been communicated to the outer world.  Outside the
Magi chapel, invisible by the Magi, and under a small glazed lantern
which lights the St. Joseph with the Virgin adoring the Infant
Saviour, and the Presepio, hangs the star.  It is very pretty where
it is, but its absence from the chapel itself is, I think, on the
whole, regrettable.  I have been sometimes tempted to think that it
originally hung on the wall by a hook which still remains near the
door through which the figures must pass, but think it more probable
that this hook was used to fasten the string of a curtain that was
hung over the window.

In conclusion, I should say that Colombo says that the figures being
short of the prescribed number were completed by Fermo Stella.
Bordiga gives the horses only to this artist.


This is more a grotto than a chapel, and is declared in an
inscription set up by Bernardino Caimi in letters of gold to be "the
exact counterpart of the one at Bethlehem in which the Virgin gave
birth to her Divine Son."  Bordiga writes of this inscription as
still visible, but I have repeatedly looked for it without success.

If Caimi, as Fassola distinctly says, had the above inscription set
up, it is plain that this, and perhaps the Shepherd's chapel hard by,
were among the very earliest chapels undertaken.  This is rendered
probable by the statement of Fassola that the shell of the
Circumcision chapel which adjoins the ones we are now considering was
built "dalli principij del Sacro Monte."  He says that this fact is
known by the testimony of certain contemporaneous painters ("il che
s' argumenta dalli Pittori che furono di que' tempi").  Clearly,
then, the Presepio, Shepherds, and Circumcision chapels were in
existence some years before the Magi chapel was begun.  Gaudenzio was
too young to have done the figures before Bernardino died.
Originally, doubtless, the grotto was shown without figures, which
were added by Gaudenzio, later on; they were probably among his first
works.  The place is so dark that they cannot be well seen, but about
noon the sun comes down a narrow staircase and they can be made out
very well for a quarter of an hour or so; they are then seen to be
very good.  They have no fresco background, nor yet is there any to
the Shepherd's chapel, which confirms me in thinking these to have
been among the earliest works undertaken.  Colombo says that the
infant Christ in the Presepio is not by Gaudenzio, the original
figure having been stolen by some foreigner not many years ago, and
Battista, the excellent Custode of the Sacro Monte, assures me that
this was the second time the infant had been stolen.


Some of the figures--the Virgin, one shepherd, and four little
angels--in this chapel are believed to be by Gaudenzio, and if they
are, they are probably among his first essays, but they are lighted
from above, and the spectator looks down on them, so that the dust
shows, and they can hardly be fairly judged.  The hindmost shepherd--
the one with his hand to his heart and looking up, is the finest
figure; the Virgin herself is also very good, but she wants washing.

If Fassola and Torrotti are to be believed, {12} and I am afraid I
must own that, much as I like them, I find them a little credulous,
the Virgin in this chapel is more remarkable than she appears at
first sight; she used originally to have her face turned in
admiration towards the infant Christ, but at the very first moment
that she heard the bells begin to ring for the elevation of Pope
Innocent the Tenth to the popedom, she turned round to the pilgrims
visiting the place, in token of approbation; the authorities, not
knowing what to make of such behaviour, had her set right, but she
turned round a second time with a most gracious smile and assumed the
position which the elevation of no later Pope has been ever able to
disturb.  Pope Innocent X. was not exactly the kind of Pope whom one
would have expected the Virgin to greet with such extraordinary
condescension.  If it had been the present amiable and venerable
Pontiff there would have been less to wonder at.


The chapel itself is, as I have already said, one of the very oldest
on the Sacro Monte; it is doubtless much older than either the
frescoes or the terra-cotta figures which it contains, both of which
are given by Fassola, Torrotti, and Bordiga to Fermo Stella, but I
cannot think they are right in either case.  The frescoes remind me
more of Lanini, and are much too modern for Fermo Stella; they are,
however, in but poor preservation, and no very definite opinion can
be formed concerning them.  The terra-cotta work is, I think, also
too free for Fermo Stella.  The infant Jesus is very pretty, and the
Virgin would also be a fine figure if she was not spoiled by the wig
and over-much paint which restorers have doubtless got to answer for.
The work is mentioned in the 1586 edition of Caccia as completed, but
there is nothing to show whether or no it was a restoration.  I have
long thought I detected a certain sub-Flemish feeling in both the
Virgin and Child, and though aware that I have very little grounds
for doing so, am half inclined to think that Tabachetti must have had
something to do with them.  Bordiga is clearly wrong in calling the
chapel a Purification.  There are no doves, and there must always be
doves for a Purification.  Besides, there was till lately a knife
ready for use lying on the table, as shown in Guidetti's illustration
of the chapel.


This chapel is described as completed in both the 1586 and 1590
editions of Caccia.  The figures are again given to Fermo Stella by
Bordiga, but not by either Fassola or Torrotti.  I am again unable to
think that Bordiga is right.  There is again, also, a sub-Flemish
feeling which is difficult to account for.  The angel is a fine
figure, and the heads of the Virgin and Child are also excellent, but
the folds of the drapery are not so good.  If there were any
evidence, which there is not, to show that these figures were early
works of Tabachetti, and that the sleeping St. Joseph is a first
attempt at the figure which he succeeded later so admirably in
rendering, I should be inclined to accept it; as it is, I can form no
opinion about the authorship of the terra-cotta work.  The fresco
background is worthless.


This chapel is of no great interest.  The authors and the date are
uncertain.  It is mentioned in the 1586 and 1590 editions of Caccia,
but we may be tolerably sure that Tabachetti had nothing to do with
it.  Bordiga says "the figures seem to be by Stella," which may be
right or may be wrong.  Though the figures are not very good, yet
this chapel has, or had in Fassola's time, other merits perhaps even
of greater than artistic value, for he says it is particularly useful
to those who have lost anything.  "Perditori di qualche cosa" are
more especial recipients of grace in consequence of devotion at this
particular chapel.  The flight is conducted as leisurely as flights
into Egypt invariably are, but has with it a something, I know not
what--perhaps it is the donkey--which always reminds me of Hampstead
Heath on a bank holiday.


This is one of the most remarkable chapels on the Sacro Monte, and
also one of the most abounding in difficult problems.  It was built
with funds provided by Carlo Emanuele I., Duke of Savoy, about the
year 1586, and took four years to complete.  In the 1586-7 edition of
Caccia the chapel itself is alone given as completed.  In the 1590-1
edition, it is said that both the sculptures and the frescoes were
now finished, and that they are all "bellissime e ben fatti (sic)."
This is confirmed by an inscription on the collar of a soldier who
stands near Herod's right hand, and which, I do not doubt, is
intended to govern the whole of the terra-cotta work.  The
inscription runs -

"Michel Ang.  RSTI" (Rossetti) "Scul:  Da Claino MDXC  Etate an.

This exactly tallies with the dates given in the two editions of

The date is thus satisfactorily established, but the authorship of
the work is less easily settled.  All the authorities without
exception say that the sculptor was a certain Giacomo Bargnola of
Valsolda, who was also called Bologna.  Fassola describes him as a
"statuario virtuosissimo e glorioso per tutta l' Europa," and
Torrotti calls him "il famoso Giacomo Bargnola di Valsoldo [sic]
sopranominato Bologna."  All subsequent writers have repeated this.

At Varallo itself I found nothing known about either Bargnola or
Valsolda, but turning to Zani find Bargnola under the name Paracca.
Zani says, "Paracca, non Peracca, ne Perracca, ne Perrazza,
Giannantonio, o Giacomo, detto il Valsoldo, Valsolino, e il
Valsoldino, non Valfondino, ed anche il Bargnola, e malamente Antonio
Valsado Parravalda."  He says that he was a "plastico" and restorer
of statues, came from the neighbourhood of Como, was "bravissimo,"
and lived about from 1557-1587.  There was a Luigi Paracca from the
same place who was also called "Il Valsoldino" and a Giacomo, and an
Andrea, but of these last three he does not say that they were

Nagler mentions only a Giovanni Antonio Parracca, who he says was
called Valsolda.  He says that he was a sculptor of Milan, who made a
reputation at Rome about 1580 as a restorer of antique statues; that
he only worked in order to get money to spend on debauchery, and
died, according to Baglione, young, and in a hospital.  His words are

"Paracca, Gio. Antonio gennant Valsoldo, Bildhauer von Mailand,
machte sich um 1580 in Rom als Restaurator antiker Werke einen Namen,
arbeitete aber nur, um Geld zur Schwelgerei zu bekommen.  Starb jung
im Hospital wie Baglione versichert."

I have had Baglione before me, but can find no life of Paracca either
under that name or under that of Bargnola, and suppose the reference
to him must be incidental in the life of some other artist.  I will
again gratefully accept a fuller reference.  I do not believe a word
about Paracca's alleged debauchery.  Who ever yet worked as Nagler

We have, then, to face on the one hand the authority of all writers
about the Sacro Monte, and on the other, the exceedingly explicit
claim made by Rossetti himself in the inscription given above.
Probably Bargnola began the work and Rossetti finished it.  It is not
likely that the extremely circumstantial statement of Fassola should
be without any foundation, but again it is not likely that Rossetti
would have claimed the work if he had not done at any rate the
greater part of it.  If Bargnola died about 1587, he could not have
done much, for in the 1586-1587 edition of Caccia it is expressly
stated that the chapel alone was done "Di questa e fatta solamente la
chiesa."  And if he had lived to finish the work, he, and not
Rossetti, would have signed it.  We may conclude, then, with some
certainty, that he died before the chapel was finished, but may think
it nevertheless probable that he was originally commissioned to do

The question resolves itself, therefore, into how much he did, and
how soon Rossetti took the work over.  It must be remembered that
Michael Angelo Rossetti is a name absolutely unknown to us.  Zani,
Nagler, Cicognara, Lubke, Perkins, and all the authorities I have
consulted omit to mention him.  I find abundant reference to three,
and indeed five, painters who were called Rossetti, two of whom--
doubtless nephews of Michael Angelo Rossetti,--did the frescoes in
this very chapel we are considering, but no one says one syllable
about any Michael Angelo Rossetti, and it is a bold thing to suppose
that an unknown man should have succeeded so admirably with such a
very important work as the Massacre of the Innocents chapel, and have
lived as the inscription shows to the age at least of fifty-seven
without leaving a single trace in any other quarter whatever.

The work, at any rate in many parts, is that of one who has been
working in clay all his life, and was a thorough master of his craft,
and this makes it all the more difficult to suppose it to be a single
tour de force.  On the other hand, such tours de force were not
uncommon among medieval Italian workmen.  Gaudenzio Ferrari's work in
sculpture is little else than a succession of tours de force, and in
other parts of the work we are now considering, there is a certain
archaism which suggests growing rather than matured power.

We should not forget, however, that an inscription in terra-cotta
cannot be surreptitiously scrawled on like a false signature on a
fresco or painting.  Here the signature was made with pomp and
circumstance while the clay was still wet, and was baked with the
figure on which it appears.  Too many people in this case would have
to know about it for a false inscription to be probable.  As for the
evidence of Fassola, we must bear in mind that he is a notoriously
inaccurate writer; that he did not write till nearly a hundred years
after the work was completed; that Torrotti is only an echo of
Fassola, and all subsequent writers little more than echoes of
Fassola and Torrotti.  On the whole, therefore, the more I have
considered the matter the more I incline towards accepting the
signature, and giving the greater part of the terra-cotta work to the
man who claims it--that is to say, to Michael Angelo Rossetti,
sculptor, of Claino.  Signor Arienta tells me he has found a Castel
Claino mentioned in an old document, as formerly existing near Milan.
He is himself inclined (though knowing nothing of Paracca when I last
saw him), to see two hands in the work--and here he is probably
right, but I hardly think Rossetti would have signed as he did if
Bargnola or Paracca had done the greater part or even half of it.

Proceeding to a consideration of the frescoes, we find that two of
Herod's body-guard, standing on his left hand, and corresponding to
the one on his right, on whose collar the sculptor signed his name,
have also signatures on their collars, obviously done in concert with
the sculptor.  The signatures are as follows:-

"Battista Roveri Pictor Milane AEta XXXV"
"Io Mauro Rover Pictor."

Fassola says that the painter of the chapel was "il Fiamenghino."  If
he had said the painters were "i Fiamenghini" he would have been
right, for Signor Arienta called my attention to a passage in Lanzi,
in which he has dealt with three painters bearing the name of Rovere,
two of whom, if not all three, were called "i Fiamenghini."  The
three were Giovanni Mauro, Giambattista, and Marco, which last
painter does not seem to have had anything to do with the Massacre of
the Innocents.  Lanzi calls Gio. Mauro a follower, first of Camillo,
and then of Giulio Cesare Procaccini.  He describes them as painters
of great facility and invention, but as seldom taking pains to do
what they very well might have done, if they had chosen, and his
verdict is, I should say, about right.  He adds:-

"I find them also called Rossetti, and they are still more often
described as 'i Fiamenghini,' their father, Richard, having come from
Flanders, and settled in Milan."

Signor Arienta explained to me that it was through this surname of
Fiamenghini, by which the brothers Rovere were known, that Giovanni
Miel D'Anvers was supposed to have had any hand in the frescoes on
the Sacro Monte.  This last-named painter was court painter to Carlo
Emanuelle I.  Bordiga knew this, and seeing he came from Antwerp,
concluded that he must be "il Fiamenghino" mentioned, and all
subsequent writers have followed him.

Signor Arienta also tells me that some twenty years or so later these
same two painters signed some frescoes at Orta as follows:-

"Io Battista, et Io Maurus Aruberius, dicti Fiamenghini, pinxerunt
anno 1608 die 9 Octobris."

Doubtless their mother's name was Rossetti, and the Michael Angelo
RSTI who claims the sculptured work, and was some twenty years their
senior, was their uncle.

He also told me that one of the figures in the frescoes of the
Massacre of the Innocents chapel is wearing a collar with a clasp on
which there is an oak-tree, for which "Rovere" is the Italian, and
that he holds this to have been a portrait of the painter.

Fassola says that under the glazed aperture which is in front of the
piece there is placed a small terra-cotta car drawn by a child and
loaded with a head, or ear, of maize, a goose, and a clown; he
explains that the maize means 1000, the car 400, the clown 90, and
the goose "per il suo verso"--whatever this may mean--4, which
numbers taken together make the number of infants that were killed.
He adds that there is another like hieroglyphic, which, as it is not
very important, he will pass over.  I find no mention of this in
Torrotti, nor yet in Bordiga, but when people call attention to a
thing and then say nothing about it, I generally find they have a
reason.  On a recent visit to Varallo I examined the two hieroglyphs;
the second is also a small terra-cotta car or cart drawn by a child,
and containing the bust of a monk, a die, and two or three other
things that I could not make out.  The treatment of these two
hieroglyphics alone is enough to show that they were done by a
thorough master of his craft.  No doubt the import of the whole was
known by Fassola to be sinister, but I must leave its interpretation
to others.  He adds that the graces vouchsafed at this chapel are
chiefly on behalf of sick children.

I may conclude by saying that though nothing has been taken directly
from Tabachetti's Journey to Calvary chapel, the sculptor, whoever he
was, has nevertheless plainly felt the influence, and been animated
by the spirit of that great work, then just completed.

CHAPTER XI.  CHAPELS No. 12--No. 22.

We now begin the series of chapels that deal with Christ's Manhood,
Ministry, and Passion.  The first of these is


The statues are of no great interest, and of unknown authorship.  The
frescoes are by Orazio Gallinone di Treviglio, but they are not
striking.  The date of the chapel is about 1585.  It is mentioned in
the 1586 edition of Caccia, and it is added that the water of the
fountain would be brought there shortly so as to imitate the Jordan.
This was done, but the water made the chapel so damp that it was
turned off again.  The graces, according to Fassola, are chiefly for
married ladies.


This chapel is given as completed in the 1586 edition of Caccia, and
had probably been by this time reconstructed by Tabachetti, to whom
the work is universally and no doubt justly ascribed.

That the figures of Christ and of the devil have both been cut about
may be conjectured from their draperies being in part real linen or
calico, and not terra-cotta; Christ's red shirt front is real, as
also is a great part of the devil's dress.  This last personage is a
most respectable-looking patriarchal old Jewish Rabbi.  I should say
he was the leading solicitor in some such town as Samaria, and that
he gave an annual tea to the choir.  He is offering Christ some
stones just as any other respectable person might do, and if it were
not for his formidable two clawed feet there would be nothing to
betray his real nature.  The beasts with their young are excellent.
The porcupine has real quills.  The fresco background is by Melchior
D'Enrico, and here the fall of the devil when the whole is over is
treated with a realistic unreserve little likely to be repeated.  He
is dreadfully unwell.  The graces in this chapel are more especially
for those tempted by the world, the flesh, and the devil, for people
who are bewitched, and for those who are in any wise troubled in
mind, body, and estate, "as the varying views of the pilgrims
themselves will best determine."

Bordiga says that the chapel was begun about 1580, and completed in
1594, but he refers probably to Tabachetti's reconstruction, for in
the portico there is an inscription painted by order of the Bishop,
and forbidding visitors to deface the walls, that is dated 1524, and
the back of the chapel has many early 16th century scratches.


This chapel is given as completed in the 1586 edition of Caccia, so
that Bordiga and Cusa are wrong in dating it 1598.  In the poetical
part of Caccia it is described as recently made and "ben ritratto."
The woman of Samaria is a fine buxom figure, but the paint has peeled
off so badly both from her and from the Christ that it is hardly fair
to judge the work at all.  I should think it was very possibly an
early work by Tabachetti, but should be sorry to hazard a decided
opinion.  The frescoes are without interest.  The graces at this
chapel were chiefly for women who wanted to abandon some evil
practice, and for rain when the country was suffering from long
drought.  This last is because Christ said to the woman of Samaria
"Give me to drink."


The chapel alone was completed by 1586 and 1590, so that we may be
certain Tabachetti had no hand in it.  The statues are said to be by
D'Enrico, whom we meet here for the first time.  Bordiga praises them
very highly, but neither Jones nor I liked the composition as much as
we should have wished to have done.  Some of the individual figures
are good, especially a man with his arm in a sling, and two men
conversing on the left of the composition, but there is too little
concerted and united action, and too much attempt to show off every
figure to the best advantage, to the sacrifice of more important
considerations.  They probably date from 1620-1624, in which last
year Bordiga says that the frescoes were completed.  These are
chiefly, if not entirely, by Cristoforo Martinolo, a Valsesian artist
and pupil of Morazzone, who, according to Bordiga, though little
known, has here shown himself no common artist.  Again neither Jones
nor I admired them as much as we should have been glad to do.  "All
infirmities of fever, and paralysis," says Fassola, "if recommended
to the Great Saviour at this place will be dissipated, as may be
gathered from the many voti here exhibited."


Of this chapel the walls are alone mentioned as completed in 1590.
So that Bordiga and Cusa are again wrong in saying that the frescoes
were painted about 1580.  It is not good.  The walls were probably
raised soon after 1580.  Donna Mathilde di Savoia, Marchesa di
Pianezza, a natural daughter of Carlo Emmanuele I., was among the
principal contributors.  The graces were "for those who had had bad
falls or any accidents whereby they had been rendered speechless,
stupid, senseless, and apparently dead."

It will be observed on referring to the plan facing p. 68, that this
chapel is given as on the ground now occupied by Christ taken before
Annas, and faces the Herod chapel on the Piazza dei Tribunali.  This
may be a mere error in the plan, but the plan is generally accurate,
and it is very likely that a change was made in the middle of the
last century when the Annas chapel was built.


This is on the highest ground of the Sacro Monte, the Transfiguration
being supposed to have happened on Mount Sinai.  Inside the chapel
they have made Mount Sinai, but Fassola says that it was originally
quite too high, and the Fabbricieri had ordered it to be made lower,
"so as to render it more enjoyable by the eye."  It was begun at the
end of the sixteenth century, but is mentioned as being only
"founded" in the 1586 and 1590 editions of Caccia, and the work seems
to have got little further than the foundations, until in 1660 it was
resumed; Fassola, writing in 1671, says that the chapel was "levata
in alto da terra l'anno del mille, sei cento e sessanta," or about
ten years before his book appeared; it was still in great part
unpainted, and he makes an appeal to his readers to contribute
towards its completion.  From both Fassola and Torrotti it would
appear that only the group of figures on the mountain was in
existence when they wrote.  They both of them make the extraordinary
statement that these figures are by Giovanni D'Enrico, whom they must
have perfectly well known to have been dead more than a quarter of a
century before Fassola wrote, and many years before the figures could
possibly have been placed where they now are.  It is much as though
I, writing now, were to ascribe Boehm's statue of Mr. Darwin, in the
Natural History Museum at South Kensington, to Chantrey.  The figures
on the mountain are among the worst on the Sacro Monte.  I see that
Cusa ascribes the figures of Peter, James, and John only to D'Enrico,
but the ascription is very difficult to understand.

Bordiga does not say who did the figures of Peter, James, and John,
but he gives the Christ, Moses, and Elias to Pietro Francesco Petera
of Varallo.  The fourteen figures at the foot of the mountain he
assigns to Gaudenzio Soldo of Camasco, a pupil of the sculptor
Dionigi Bussola.  In 1665 Giuseppe and Stefano Danedi, called
Montalti, and pupils of Morazzone, "painted the cupola of the chapel
with innumerable angels great and small exhibiting the most varied
movements."  Giuseppe had the greater share in this work, in which
may be seen, according to Bordiga, signs of the influence of Guido,
under whom Giuseppe had studied.

Among the figures below the mountain there is a blind man, and a boy
with a bad foot leading him--both good--and a contemptuous father
telling the Apostles that they cannot cure his son, and that he had
told them so from the first, but the paint is peeling off the figures
so much that the work can hardly be judged fairly.  When photographed
they look much better, and Signor Pizetta tells me he was last year
commissioned to photograph the boy, who is in a fit of hystero-
epilepsy, for a medical work that was being published in France, so
it is probably very true to nature.


Fassola says that this chapel was erected at the expense of Pomponio
Bosso, a noble Milanese, between the years 1560 and 1580.  It is
mentioned as finished in the 1586 edition of Caccia, and was probably
completed before Tabachetti came.  Bordiga only says that it was
finished in 1582.  The statues are of little or no merit, nor yet the
frescoes.  I observe that in Caccia the "tempio" is praised but not
apparently the work that it contained.  The terra-cotta figures are
ascribed by Bordiga to Ravello, and the frescoes to Testa, whose
brother, Lorenzo Testa, was Fabbriciere at the time the chapel was
erected.  There is one rather nice little man in the left-hand
corner, but there is nothing else.


The figures in this chapel are ascribed to Giovanni D'Enrico by both
Fassola and Torrotti, an ascription very properly set aside by
Bordiga, without assigned reason, but probably because 1590 is
considerably too early for Giovanni D'Enrico, and there is a document
dated May 23, 1590, showing that the fresco background was then
contracted for.  The sculptured figures are mentioned as finished in
the 1586 edition of Caccia, so that D'Enrico could not have done
them.  They are better than those in the preceding chapels, but they
do not arouse enthusiasm, and have suffered so much from decay, and
from repainting, that it is hardly fair to form any opinion about
them.  They probably looked much better when new.  The landscape part
of the background is by one of the brothers Rovere, named, as I have
said, Fiamenghini, and he has introduced a house with a stepped gable
like those at Antwerp.  Some of the figures in the background appear
to be by the painter Testa, who is named in the document above
referred to.


This was one of the earliest chapels, and is mentioned as completed
in the 1586 edition of Caccia.  The figures are of wood, stiff, and
lifeless, the supper is profuse and of much later date than the
figures, but the whole scene is among the least successful on the
Sacro Monte.  Originally, but not till many years after the figures
had been made and placed, Lanini painted a fresco background for this
chapel.  Perhaps Gaudenzio brought him from Vercelli on the occasion
of the temporary return to Varallo supposed by Colombo to have taken
place between 1536 and 1539.  If we could know when Lanini was on the
Sacro Monte doing this background, we might suspect that Gaudenzio
was not far off.  Lanini's work has unfortunately perished in a
second reconstruction of the chapel.  Torrotti in 1686 says that a
reconstruction of the Cena chapel was then contemplated, but that
Lanini's frescoes were not to be touched.  The original Cena chapel
may or may not have been on its present site, but the first
restoration certainly was so, as appears from the plan dated 1671
already given.  The apostles have real napkins round their shoulders.
The graces are for people who feel themselves deficient in faith, and
intercession may be made here for obstinate sinners.


This chapel, again, has been reconstructed, but the old figures have
not been preserved as in the case of the Cena, nor yet has the
original site.  The original site, according to Bordiga, was apart
from the other chapels at the foot of the neighbouring monticello,
meaning, presumably, the height on which the Transfiguration chapel
now stands.  It was at this old chapel that S. Carlo used to spend
hours in prayer.  It was one of the earliest, and the figures were of
wood.  Fassola says that it was the angel who was offering the cup to
Christ in the old chapel who announced his approaching end to S.
Carlo, but the figures had been removed in his time as they were
perishing, and the terra-cotta ones by Giovanni D'Enrico had been
substituted, with a fresco background by his brother Melchiorre.
These in their turn perished during a reconstruction some twenty
years or so ago.  The graces at this chapel are thus described by

"Il moderno e Christo ed Angiolo nel medemo stato rinouati non sono
meno miraculosi, perche tutti li concorrenti, bisognosi di pazienza
di soffrire trauagli, malattie, ed ogni sorte d' infermita tanto
dell' anima, quanto del corpo caldamente racomandandosi al piacere di
questo sudante Christo riportano cio che meglio per lo stato di
questo, ed altro Mondo fa di necessita alle loro persone."

I find no mention of any original fresco background, though I do of
the one added afterwards by Melchiorre D'Enrico, now no longer in
existence.  As this was one of the earliest chapels, I incline to
think that there was no fresco background in the first instance.


Fassola says that this chapel was decorated about fifty years (really
fifty-nine) before the date at which he was writing, by Melchiorre
D'Enrico.  It was then on its present site, but the end of the Cena
block was rebuilt some twenty years ago.  The present Custode,
Battista, tells me he worked at the rebuilding, and taking me
upstairs showed me a trace or two of Melchiorre's background.  The
sleeping Apostles are said to be by Giovanni D'Enrico; they will not
bear comparison with Tabachetti's St. Joseph.  The benefactor was
Count Pio Giacomo Fassola di Rassa, a collateral ancestor of the
historian.  People who have become lethargic in their self-
indulgence, or who are blinded through some bad habit, will find
relief at this chapel.  I have met with nothing to show that there
was any earlier chapel with the same subject, and in the 1586 edition
of Caccia it is expressly mentioned as one of those that as yet were
merely contemplated, though the Agony in the Garden itself is
described as completed.


We now come to the block of several chapels comprised in a building
originally designed by Pellegrini at the instance of S. Carlo
Borromeo, but not carried out according to his design, and called
"The Palace of Pilate."  This work was begun about 1590, and
according to Fassola was not completed till 1660.  The figures,
however, must have been most of them placed by 1644, for they are
mainly by Giovanni D'Enrico, who is believed to have died in that
year.  The first of these chapels--the Capture of Christ--and
probably several others, comprise some figures taken from earlier
chapels.  Fassola says that before this building was erected, the old
portico built by Milano Scarrognini stood in the Piazza in front of
the Holy Sepulchre, that "in its circuit of three hundred paces it
comprised several mysteries of the passion."  Among these were
probably the present Flagellation, Crowning with Thorns, and final
Taking of Christ before Pilate chapels.  Each of these, however, has
undergone some modification.


This chapel is in the Palazzo di Pilato block, though not strictly a
suffering under Pontius Pilate.  The greater number of the sixteen
figures that it contains are old, and of wood, and among these are
the figures of Christ, Judas, and Malchus, who is lying on the
ground.  To show how dust and dirt accumulate in the course of
centuries, I may say that Cav. Prof. Antonini told me he had himself
unburied the figure of Malchus, which he found more than half covered
with earth.  We have seen that there are also two figures introduced
here which had no connection with the original chapel, I mean of
course the old Adam and Eve, who are now doing duty as Roman
soldiers.  The few remaining figures that are not of wood are given
to D'Enrico, and the frescoes are by his brother Melchiorre.  Neither
figures nor frescoes can be highly praised.  The present chapel is
not on the site of the old, which I have already explained was on the
ground floor of the large house on the visitor's left as he enters
the smaller entrance to the Sacro Monte.

The servants were put to lodge above this old and now derelict
Capture chapel when the present one was made.  The date of the
removal is given by Cusa as 1570, who says that the Marchese del
Guasto contributed largely to the expense.  If the figures were then
completed and arranged as we now see them, Giovanni D'Enrico can have
had no hand in them, but it is quite possible that somewhere about
1615-1619, they were again rearranged and perhaps added to.
Melchiorre D'Enrico has signed the frescoes in a quasi-cipher and
dated them 1619.  The old chapel, though, I think, originally larger
than it now is, could not have contained all or nearly all the
present figures.  Any second rearrangement of the chapel may have
been due to its incorporation in the Palazzo di Pilato block, which
we know was not begun till after 1590.  That the removal from the
original chapel had been effected before 1586 is shown by the fact
that the chapel is given in its present geographical sequence in the
edition of Caccia published at the end of that year.  The work
contains no trace of Tabachetti's hand, and this should make us
incline towards thinking that.  Tabachetti had not yet come to
Varallo by 1570.

Of the former chapel Fassola says:-

"On again descending where formerly was the Capture of Christ, and
near the exit [from the Sacro Monte] we came to the porter's lodge.
It should be noted that under the porter's room, in the place where
the Capture used to be, there are most admirable frescoes by
Gaudenzio" (p. 22).

With his accustomed reticence where he fears to give offence, he does
not say that the frescoes are going to rack and ruin, but this is
what he means; Torrotti expresses himself more freely, saying that a
chapel, although derelict, containing paintings by Gaudenzio and his
pupils, should not be left to the neglect of servants.  These
frescoes were removed a year or so ago to the Pinacoteca in the
Museum.  They are not by Gaudenzio, and are now rightly given to
Lanini.  They are mere fragments, and of no great importance.


This is the one chapel that belongs to the 18th century, having been
finished about 1765 at the expense of certain Valsesians residing in
Turin.  It does not belong to the Palazzo di Pilato block, but I deal
with it here to avoid departure from the prescribed order.  The
design of the chapel is by Morondi, and the figures by Carlantonio
Tandarini, except that of Annas, which is by Giambattista Bernesi of
Turin.  The frescoes are of the usual drop scene, barocco, academic
kind, but where the damp has spared them they form an effective
background.  The figures want concert, and are too much spotted about
so as each one to be seen to the best advantage.  This, as Tabachetti
very well knew, is not in the manner of living action, and the
attempt to render it on these principles is doomed to failure;
nevertheless many of Tandarini's individual figures are very clever,
and have a good deal of a certain somewhat exaggerated force and
character.  I have already said that from the plan of 1671 "The
Widow's Son" would seem to have been formerly on the site of the
present Annas chapel.


Cusa says that this chapel, which again is not in the Palazzo di
Pilato block, adheres very closely to the design of Pellegrino
Tibaldi.  The figures, thirty-three in number, are by Giovanni
D'Enrico and Giacomo Ferro, and the frescoes being dated 1642, we may
think the terra-cotta work to be among the last done by D'Enrico on
the Sacro Monte.  The figure of Caiaphas must be given to him, and it
is hard to see how it could have been more dramatically treated.
Caiaphas has stepped down from his throne, which is left vacant
behind him, and is adjuring Jesus to say whether he is the Christ the
Son of God.  If it were not for the cobweb between the arm and the
body, the photograph which is here given might almost pass as having
been taken from life, and the character is so priest-like that it is
hard to understand how priests could have tolerated it as they did.
Indeed, the figure is so far finer than the general run of Giovanni
D'Enrico's work, and so infinitely superior to the four figures of
Pilate in the four Pilate chapels, that we should be tempted to give
it to some other sculptor if, happily, the Herod did not also show
how great D'Enrico could be when he was doing his best, and if the
evidence for its having been by him were not so strong.

To the left of Caiaphas's empty throne are two standing figures,
which look as if they had been begun for figures of Christ, but were
condemned as not good enough.  They may perhaps be intended for
Joseph and Nicodemus.  Some few of the other figures, which in all
number thirty-three, are also full of character, but the greater part
of them do not rise above the level of Giacomo Ferro's supers, and
suffer from having lost much paint; nevertheless the chapel is
effective, chiefly, doubtless, through the excellence of the Caiaphas
himself, and if we could see the work as it was when D'Enrico left it
we should doubtless find it more effective still.

The frescoes are by Cristoforo Martinolo, also named Rocca.  They are
not of remarkable excellence, but form an efficient background, and
are among the best preserved on the Sacro Monte.  They have also the
great merit of being legibly signed and dated.


Hard by under a portico there is a statue of St. Peter, repentant,
and over him there is a cock still crowing.  The figure of St. Peter,
and presumably that of the cock also, are by D'Enrico.  I can find
nothing about the date in any author.

This cock is said to have been the chief instrument in a miracle not
less noteworthy than any recorded in connection with the Sacro Monte.
It seems that on the 3rd of July 1653 a certain Lorenzo Togni from
Buccioleto, who had been a martyr to intemperance for many years,
came to the Sacro Monte in that state in which martyrs to
intemperance must be expected generally to be.  It was very early in
the morning, but nevertheless the man was drunk, though still just
able to go the round of the chapels.  Nothing noticeable occurred
till he got to the Caiaphas chapel, but here all on a sudden, to the
amazement of the man himself, and of others who were standing near, a
noise was heard to come from up aloft in the St. Peter chapel, and it
was seen that the cock had turned round and was flapping his wings
with an expression of great severity.  Before they had recovered from
their surprise, the bird exclaimed in a loud voice, and with the
utmost distinctness, "Ciocc' anch' anc'uei," running the first two
words somewhat together, and dwelling long on the last syllable,
which is sounded like a long French "eu" and a French "i."  These
words I am told mean, "Drunk again to-day also?" the "anc'uei" being
a Piedmontese patois for "ancora oggi."  The bird repeated these
words three or four times over, and then turned round on its perch,
to all appearance terra cotta again.  The effect produced upon the
drunkard was such that he could never again be prevailed upon to
touch wine, and ever since this chapel has been the one most resorted
to by people who wish to give up drinking to excess.

The foregoing story is not given either in Fassola or Torrotti, but
my informant, a most intelligent person, assured me that to this day
the cocks about Varallo do not unfrequently say "Ciocc' anch'
anc'uei"--indeed, I have repeatedly heard them do so with the most
admirable distinctness.  I am told that cocks sometimes challenge,
and wish to fight, well-done cocks on crucifixes, but it is some way
from this to the cock on the crucifix beginning to crow too.  One
does not see where this sort of thing is to end, and once terra-cotta
always terra-cotta, is a maxim that a respectable figure would on the
whole do well to lay to heart and abide by.


The Pilate is not nearly so good as the Caiaphas in the preceding
chapel, but though there is not one single figure of superlative
excellence, this is still one of D'Enrico's best works, and the
Pilate is the best of the four Pilates.  The nineteen figures are
generally ascribed to him; and, I should say there was less Giacomo
Ferro in this chapel than in most of D'Enrico's.  Possibly Giacomo
Ferro was not yet D'Enrico's assistant.  The frescoes are by Antonio,
or Tanzio, D'Enrico, but I cannot see much in them to admire.

The date is given by Bordiga as about 1620, but no date is given
either by Fassola or Torrotti.  The nude figure to the left, seated
and holding a spear near the spectator, is said to be a portrait of
Tanzio, but Bordiga thinks that if we are to look for the portrait
anywhere in this composition, we should do so in the open gallery
above the gate of the Pretorium, where we shall find a figure that
has nothing to do with the story, and represents a "jocund-looking"
but venerable old man, wearing a hat with a white feather in it, and
like the portrait of Melchiorre painted by himself in his Last
Judgment--presumably the one outside the church at Riva Valdobbia.
Bordiga adds that Melchiorre was still living in 1620, when Tanzio
was at work on these frescoes.


Bordiga says that this chapel was begun in 1606, as shown by a letter
from Monsignor Bescape, Bishop of Novara, authorising the Fabbricieri
to appropriate three hundred scudi from the Mass chest for the
purpose of erecting it, but it was not finished until 1638.  The
statues, thirty-five in number, are by Giovanni D'Enrico, and the
frescoes by Tanzio, but we have no means of dating either the one or
the other accurately.

The figure of Herod is incomparably finer than any others in the
chapel, if we except those of two laughing boys on Herod's left that
are hardly seen till one is inside the chapel itself.  Take each of
the figures separately and few are good.  As usual in D'Enrico's
chapels, there is a deficiency of the ensemble and concert which no
one except Tabachetti seems to have been able to give in sculptured
groups containing many figures; nevertheless, the Herod and the
laughing boys atone almost for any deficiency.  Bordiga speaks of the
frescoes in the highest terms, but I do not admire them as I should
wish to do.  They are generally considered as Antonio D'Enrico's
finest work on the Sacro Monte.

The figures behind the two boys' heads coming very awkwardly in my
photograph, my friend Mr. Gogin has kindly painted them out for me,
so as to bring the boys' heads out better.


This is supposed to be the last work of Giovanni D'Enrico, who,
according to Durandi, died in 1644.  The scene comprises twenty-three
terra-cotta figures, few of them individually good, but nevertheless
effective as a whole.  One man, the nearest but one to the spectator,
must be given to D'Enrico, and perhaps one or two more, but the
greater number must have been done by Giacomo Ferro.  The frescoes
were begun both by Morazzone and Antonio D'Enrico, but Fassola and
Torrotti say that neither the one nor the other was able to complete
the work, which in their time was still unfinished; but Doctor
Morosini was going to get a really good man to finish them without
further delay.  Eventually the brothers Grandi of Milan came and did
the Doric architecture, while Pietro Gianoli did some sibyls, and on
the facciata "il casto Giuseppe portato da due Angioli."  Gianoli
signed his work and dated it 1679.  We know, then, that in this case
the sculptured figures were placed some years before the background,
as probably also with several other chapels; and it may be assumed
that generally the terra-cotta figures preceded the background--which
was designed for them, and not they for it, except in the case of
Gaudenzio Ferrari--who probably conceived both the round and flat
work together as part of the same design, and was thus the only
artist on the Sacro Monte who carried out the design of uniting
painting and sculpture in a single design, under the conditions which
strictly it involves.

In connection with this chapel both Fassola and Torrotti say that
D'Enrico has intentionally made Christ's face become smaller and
smaller during each of these last scenes, as becoming contracted
through increase of suffering.  I have been unable to see that this
is more than fancy on their parts.

It is also in connection with this chapel that we discover the true
date of Fassola's book.  He says that they had been on the lookout
"during the whole OF LAST YEAR"--which he gives as 1669--for some one
to finish the frescoes.  "Now, however," he continues, "when this
book is seeing light," &c.  The book therefore should be seeing light
in 1670.  It is dated 1671.  True, Fassola may have been writing at
the very end of 1670, and the book may have been published at the
beginning of 1671, but perhaps the more natural conclusion is that
the same reasons which make publishers wish to misdate their books by
a year now, made them wish to do so then, and that though Fassola's
book appeared at the end of 1670, as would appear from his own words,
it was nevertheless dated 1671.


Torrotti and Fassola say that the Christ in this chapel, as well as
in all the others, is an actual portrait--and no doubt an admirable
one--communicated by Divine inspiration to the many workmen and
artists who worked on the Sacro Monte.  This, they say, may be known
from two documents contemporaneous with Christ Himself, in which His
personal appearance is fully set forth, and which seem almost to have
been written from the statues now existing at Varallo.  The worthy
artists who made these statues were by no means given to historical
investigations, and were little likely to know anything about the
letters in question; besides, these had only just been discovered, so
that there can have been no deception or illusion.  Both Fassola and
Torrotti give the letters in full, and to their pages the reader who
wishes to see them may be referred.  Fassola writes:-

"Hora vegga ogni diuoto se rassomigliando queste statue al vero
Christo essendo lauorate accidentalmente, parendo da Dio sia dato
alli Statuarij, e Pittori il lume della sua Diuina Persona non si ha
se non per mera sua disposizione e diachiarazione d'hauer quiui quasi
come rinouata, e resa piu commoda alla Christianita la sua
Redenzione" (p. 103).

The work is mentioned as completed in the 1586 edition of Caccia--
this, and the Crowning with Thorns, being the only two that are
described as completed of those that now form part of the Palazzo di
Pilato block.  These two chapels do not in reality, however, belong
to the Palazzo di Pilato at all; they existed long before it, and the
new work was added on to them.  Bordiga says that "an order of
Monsignor Bescape relating to this chapel, and dated February 1,
1605, shows that there was as yet no plan of this part of the Palace
of Pilate."  I have not seen this order, and can only speak with
diffidence, but I do not think the chapel has been much modified
since 1586, beyond the fact that Rocca, whom we have already met with
as painting in the Caiaphas chapel in 1642, at some time or another
painted a new background, which is now much injured by damp.

Not only does the author of the 1586 Caccia mention the chapel, but
he does it with more effusion than is usual with him.  He rarely says
anything in praise of any but the best work.  I do not, therefore,
think it likely that his words refer to the original wooden figures,
two of which were preserved when the work was remodelled; these two
mar the chapel now, and when all the work was of the same calibre it
cannot have kindled any enthusiasm in a writer who appears to have
known very fairly well which were the best chapels.  He says:-

"Da manigoldi, in atto acerbo e fiero,
Alla colonna Christo flagellato
Da scultor dotto assimigliato al vero
Di questo {13} in un de i lati e dimostrato,

E come fusse macerato e nero,
D'aspri flagelli percosso, e vergato,
Di Christo il sacro corpo in ogni parte,
Vi ha sculto dotto mastro in sottil arte."

I think the reconstruction of the chapel, then, and its assumption of
its present state, except that a fresco background was added, should
be assigned to some year about 1580-1585, and am disposed to ascribe,
at any rate, the figure of the man who is binding Christ to the
column to Tabachetti, who was then working on the Sacro Monte, and
whose style the work seems to me to resemble more nearly than it does
that of D'Enrico.  Whoever the chapel is by, it was evidently in its
present place and much admired in 1586; there could hardly,
therefore, have been any occasion to reconstruct it, especially when
so much other work was crying to be done, and when it had, in all
probability, been once reconstructed already.

On the whole, until external evidence shows D'Enrico to have done the
figures, I shall continue to think that at least one of them, and
very possibly all except the two old wooden ones, are by Tabachetti.
The foot of the man binding Christ to the column has crumbled away,
either because the clay was bad, or from insufficient baking.  This
is why the figure is propped up with a piece of wood.  The damp has
made the rope slack, so that the pulling action of the figure is in
great measure destroyed, its effect being cancelled by its
ineffectualness; but for this the reader will easily make due
allowance.  The same man reappears presently in the balcony of the
Ecce Homo chapel, but he is there evidently done by another and much
less vigorous hand.

The man in the foreground, who is stooping down and binding his rods,
is the same as the one who is kicking Christ in Tabachetti's Journey
to Calvary, and is one of those adopted by Tabachetti from Gaudenzio
Ferrari's Crucifixion chapel; this figure may perhaps have been an
addition by Giovanni D'Enrico, or have been done by an assistant, for
it is hardly up to Tabachetti's mark.  The two nearest scourgers are
fine powerful figures, but I should admit that they remind me rather
of D'Enrico than of Tabachetti, though they might also be very well
by him, and probably are so.

Fassola says that the graces obtainable by the faithful here have
relation to every kind of need; they are in a high degree
unspecialised, and that this freedom from specialisation is
characteristic of all the chapels of the Passion.


Much that was said about the preceding chapel applies also to this.
It is mentioned in the 1586 edition of Caccia as done "sottilmente in
natural ritratto," and as being one of the few works that would form
part of the Palazzo di Pilato block that were as yet completed.

That this chapel had undergone one reconstruction before 1586, we may
gather from the fact that the left-hand wall is still covered with a
fresco of the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise; this has no
connection with the Crowning with Thorns, and doubtless formed the
background to the original Adam and Eve.  I have already said that I
am indebted to Signor Arienta for this suggestion.  Bordiga calls
this subject Christ being Led to be Crowned, and gives it to Crespi
da Cerano, but I cannot understand how he can see in the work
anything but an Expulsion from Paradise.  The chapel having been
reconstructed before 1586 on its present site--as it evidently had
been--and being admired, is not likely to have been reconstructed a
second time, and I am again, therefore, inclined to give the whole
work, or at any rate the greater part of it, to Tabachetti, and to
reject the statements of Fassola, Torrotti, Bordiga, and Cusa, who
all ascribe the figures to D'Enrico.  The two men standing up behind
Christ, one taunting Him, and the other laughing, are among the
finest on the Sacro Monte, and are much more in Tabachetti's manner
than in D'Enrico's.  The other figures are, as they were doubtless
intended to be, of minor interest.

Some of the frescoes other than those above referred to, were added
at a later date, and are said by Bordiga, on the authority of a
covenant, dated September 27th, 1608, to have been done by Antonio
Rantio, who undertook to paint them for a sum of ten ducatoons.  They
are without interest.

It was here the Flemish dancer was healed.

His name was Bartholomew Jacob, and he came from Graveling in
Flanders.  It seems there was a ball going on at the house of one of
this man's ancestors, and that the Last Sacraments were being carried
through the street under the windows of the ball-room.

The dancing ought by rights to have been stopped, but the host
refused to stop it, and presently the priest who was carrying the
Sacrament found a paper under the chalice, written in a handwriting
of almost superhuman neatness, presumably that of the Madonna herself
and bearing the words, "Dancer, thou wouldst not stay thy dance:  I
curse thee, therefore, that thou dance for nine generations."  And so
he did, he and all his descendants all their lives, till it came to
Bartholomew Jacob, who was the ninth in descent.  He too began life
dancing, and was still dancing when he started on a pilgrimage to
Rome; when, however, he got to the Sacro Monte at Varallo on the 7th
of January 1646, he began to feel tired, tremulous, and languid from
so much incessant movement.  This strange feeling attacked him first
at the Nativity Chapel, but by the time he got to the Crowning with
Thorns he could stand it no longer, and fell as one dead, to rise
again presently perfectly whole, and relieved of his distressing

Personally I find this story interesting as giving high support to
the theory I have been trying to insist upon for some years past, and
according to which in a certain sense a man is personally identical
with all the generations in the direct line both of his ancestry and
his descendants, as well as with himself.  The words "Thou shalt
dance for nine generations" involve one of the most important points
contended for in my earlier book, "Life and Habit."  Fassola and
Torrotti both say that more pilgrims left alms at this chapel than at
any other.  In fact they both seem to consider that this chapel did
very well.  "Qui," says Torrotti, "si colgano elemosine assai," and,
as I have said already, it is here that a few autumn leaves of waxen
images still linger.

A few weeks ago I saw the original document in which the story above
given was attested.  It was dated 1671, and signed, stamped, and
sealed as a document of the highest importance.  I noticed that in
this manuscript, it was a voice that was heard, and not as in Fassola
a letter that was found.


This is not mentioned in the 1586 edition of Caccia, perhaps as being
a poor and unimportant work.  Fassola says that some of the frescoes,
as well as of the statues, which, he says, are of wood, were by
Gaudenzio.  The other statues are given both by Fassola and Torrotti
to D'Enrico, and the paintings to Gianoli, a wealthy Valsesian
amateur who lived at Campertogno.  Bordiga gives the statues to
Ferro, already mentioned as a pupil of D'Enrico, but whoever did
them, they are about as bad as they can be--too bad, I should say,
for Giacomo Ferro, and I am not sure that they are not of wood even
now.  No traces of Gaudenzio's frescoes remain.  The chapel seems to
have been reconstructed in connection with the replica of the Scala
Santa up which Christ is going to be conducted.  We have seen that
the design for these stairs was procured from Rome in 1608 by
Francesco Testa, who was then Fabbriciere.


This is one of the finest chapels, the concert between the figures
being better than in most of D'Enrico's other work, notwithstanding
the fact that more than one, and probably several, are old figures
taken from chapels that were displaced when the Palazzo di Pilato
block was made.  The figures are thirty-seven in number, and are
disposed in a spacious hall not wholly unlike the vestibule of the
Reform Club, Christ and His immediate persecutors appearing in a
balustraded balcony above a spacious portico that supports it.  This
must have been one of D'Enrico's first works on the Sacro Monte, the
frescoes having been paid for on Dec. 7, 1612, as shown by
Morazzone's receipt which is still in existence, and which is for the
sum of 2400 imperiali.  Of these frescoes it is impossible to speak
highly; they look clever at first and from a distance, but do not
bear closer attention.  Morazzone took pains with the Journey to
Calvary chapel, which was his first work on the Sacro Monte, but
never did anything so good again.

Of the terra-cotta figures, the one to the extreme left is certainly
by Gaudenzio Ferrari, being another portrait, in nearly the same
attitude, of the extreme figure to the left in the Crucifixion
chapel.  For reasons into which I will enter more fully when I come
to this last-named work, I do not doubt that Stefano Scotto,
Gaudenzio's master, is the person represented.  I had to go inside
the chapel to hold a sheet behind the figure in order to detach it
from the background, so had myself taken along with it to show how it
compares with a living figure.  It is generally said at Varallo to be
a portrait of Giovanno D'Enrico's brother Tanzio, but this is
obviously impossible, for not only does the same person reappear in
the Crucifixion chapel, but he is also found in Gaudenzio's early
fresco of the Disputa in the Sta. Margherita chapel already referred
to, and elsewhere, as I will presently show.  I should be sorry to
say that any other figure in the Ecce Homo chapel except this is
certainly by Gaudenzio, but am inclined to think that two or three
others are also by him, the rest being probably all of them by
D'Enrico or some assistant.  Some--more especially two children, on
the head of one of whom a man has laid his hand--are of extreme
beauty.  The child that is looking up is among the most beautiful in
the whole range of sculpture; the other is not so good, but has
suffered in re-painting, the eyelid being made too red; if this were
remedied, as it easily might be, the figure would gain greatly.  Cav.
Prof. Antonini has very successfully substituted plaster hair for the
horsehair, which had in great measure fallen off.  The motive of this
incidental group is repeated, but with less success, in Giovanni
D'Enrico's Nailing to the Cross.

There is another child to the extreme right of the composition so
commonly and poorly done that it is hard to believe it can be by the
same hand, but it is not likely that Giacomo Ferro had as yet become
D'Enrico's assistant.  The man who is pointing out Christ to this
last-named child is far more seriously treated, and might even be an
importation from an earlier work.  Among other very fine figures is a
man who is looking up and holding a staff in his hand; he stands
against the wall to the spectator's right among the figures nearest
to the grating.  There is also an admirable figure of a man on one
knee tying his cross garter and at the same time looking up.  This
figure is in the background rather hidden away, and is not very well
seen from the grating.  I should add that the floor of the chapel
slopes a little up from the spectator like the stage in a theatre.

The dog in the middle foreground is hollow, as are all the figures,
or at any rate many of them, and shows a great hole on the side away
from the spectator; it is not fixed to the ground, but stands on its
own legs; it was as much as I could do to lift it.  I am told the
figures were baked down below in the town, and though they are most
of them in several pieces it must have been no light work carrying
them up the mountain.  I have been shown the remains of a furnace
near the present church on the Sacro Monte, but believe it was only
used for the figures made by Luigi Marchesi in 1826.  I should,
however, have thought that the figures would have been baked upon the
Sacro Monte itself and not in the town.

Of this chapel Fassola says:-

"All the pilgrims of every description come here, because it is at
the top of the Scala Santa up which they go upon their knees, and
there is plenty of room for pilgrims, as the chapel extends the whole
width of the staircase.  Those who are oppressed with travail, or
fevers, or lawsuits, or unjust persecutions of any description, are
comforted on being commended to this Christ."  "Vi sono qui," says
Torrotti, "pascoli deliziosi per i curiosi e piu dotti."

I daresay that on the great festivals of the Church, some pilgrims
may still go up the Scala Santa kneeling, but they do not commonly do
so.  Often as I have been at the Sacro Monte, I never yet saw a
pilgrim mount the staircase except on his feet in the usual way.  It
must be a very painful difficult thing to go up twenty-eight
consecutive high steps on one's knees; I tried it, but gave it up
after a very few steps, and do not recommend any of my readers to
even do as much as this.


Fassola, Torrotti, and Bordiga all call this one of the best chapels,
but neither Jones nor I could see that it was nearly so successful as
the preceding.  The seventeen modelled figures are by Giovanni
D'Enrico, and the frescoes by his brother Antonio or Tanzio.  One or
two of the figures--especially a man putting his finger to his mouth
derisively, are excellent, but the Pilate is a complete failure; and
it is hard to think it can have been done, as it probably
nevertheless was, by the sculptor of the Caiaphas and Herod figures.
Bordiga says that a contract was made with Caccia (not the
historian), called Moncalvo, for the frescoes.  This was the painter
who did the backgrounds for the Crea chapels, but the contract was
never carried out, probably because Antonio D'Enrico returned from
Rome.  It was dated November 1616, so that the terra-cotta figures
probably belong to this year or to those that immediately preceded


This is better than the preceding chapel, and contains some good
individual figures.  The statues are twenty-seven in number, and were
modelled by D'Enrico prior to the year 1614, in which year Morazzone
was paid twelve hundred imperiali for having painted the frescoes, so
that it was one of his earlier works, but the Pilate is again a
failure.  People who have been badly treated, and who have suffered
from some injustice, are more especially recommended by Fassola "to
try this Christ, who moves the pity of all who look upon Him."

He continues that it was the intention to add some other chapels at
the end of the portico of the Palazzo di Pilato, but this intention
was not carried out.  Bordiga calls attention to the view on the
right, looking over Varallo and the Mastallone, as soon as the
portico is passed.


The Palazzo di Pilato is now ended, and we begin with the mysteries
of the Passion and Death of the Redeemer, the first of which is set
forth in


This, having regard to the terra-cotta figures alone, is by far the
finest work on the Sacro Monte, and it is hardly too much to say that
no one who has not seen it knows what sculpture can do.  I have
sufficiently shown that all the authorities, not one of whom has ever
so much as seen a page of Caccia, are wrong by at least twenty years,
when they say that Tabachetti completed the work in 1606.  Bordiga
refers, and this time I have no doubt accurately, to a deed drawn up
in 1602, in accordance with which the fresco background was begun by
Antonio Gandino, a painter of Brescia; this alone should have made
Bordiga suspect that the terra-cotta work had been already completed,
but he does not appear to have noted the fact, and goes on to say
that the agreement with Gandino was cancelled by Bishop Bescape in
1604, and that his work was destroyed, the chapel being handed over
to Morazzone, who painted it in 1605, and was paid 1400 lire, besides
twenty gold scudi.  Morazzone has followed Gaudenzio boldly,
repeating several of his fresco figures, as Tabachetti, with
admirable good taste, had repeated several of his terra-cotta ones,
while completely varying the action.  The right-hand frescoes, and
part of those on the wall opposite the spectator, have been recently
cut away in squares, and relined, as the wall was perishing from

The statues consist of about forty figures of men, women, and
children, and nine horses, all rather larger than life.  They too
have suffered from the effect of damp upon the paint; nevertheless, a
more permanent and satisfactory kind of pigment has been used here
than in most of the chapels; the work does not seem to have been
much, if at all repainted, since Tabachetti left it.  One figure of a
child in the foreground has disappeared, the marks of its feet and
two little bits of rusty iron alone show where it was; the woman who
was holding it also remains without an arm.  I am tempted to think
that some disturbing cause has affected a girl who is holding a
puppy, a little to the right of this last figure, and doubt whether
something that accompanied her may not have perished; at any rate, it
does not group with the other figures as well as these do with one
another; this, however, is a very small blemish.  The work is one
that will grow upon the reader the more he studies it, and should
rank as the most successfully ambitious of medieval compositions in
sculpture, no less surely than Gaudenzio's Crucifixion chapel, having
regard to grandeur of scheme as well as execution, should rank as the
most daring among Italian works of art in general.  I am aware that
this must strike many of my readers as in all probability a very
exaggerated estimate, but can only repeat that I have studied these
works for the last twenty years with every desire not to let a false
impression run away with me, and that each successive visit to
Varallo, while tending somewhat to lower my estimate of Giovanni
D'Enrico--unless when he is at his very best--has increased my
admiration for both Gaudenzio Ferrari and Tabachetti, as also, I
would add, for the sculptor of the Massacre of the Innocents chapel.

It cannot, indeed, be pretended that Tabachetti's style is as pure as
that of his great predecessor, but what it has lost in purity it has
gained in freedom and vigour.  It is not possible that an artist
working in the years 1580-1585 should present to us traces of the
archaism which even the most advanced sculptors of half a century
earlier had not wholly lost.  The stronger a man is the more
certainly will he be modified by his own times as well as modify
them, and in an age of barocco we must not look for Donatellos.
Still, the more Tabachetti's work is examined the more will it be
observed that he took no harm from the barocco, but kept its freedom
while avoiding its coarseness and exaggeration.  For reasons
explained in an earlier chapter his figures are not generally
portraits, but he is eminently realistic, and if he did the
Vecchietto, of which I have given a photograph at the beginning of
this book, he must be credited with one of the most living figures
that have ever been made--a figure which rides on the very highest
crest of the wave, and neither admits possibility of further advance
towards realism without defeating its own purpose, nor shows even the
slightest sign of decadence.  Of the figure of the Countess of
Serravalle, to which I have already referred, Torrotti said it was so
much admired in his day that certain Venetian cavaliers offered to
buy it for its weight in gold, but that the mere consideration of
such an offer would be high treason (lesa Maesta) to the Sacro Monte.
Fassola and Torrotti, as well as Bordiga and Cusa, are evidently
alive to the fact that as far as sculpture goes we have here the
highest triumph attained on the Sacro Monte of Varallo.

I had better perhaps give the words in which Caccia describes the
work.  In the 1586 edition, we read, in the preliminary prose part,
as follows:-

"Come N. S. e condotto alla morte con la croce alle spalle, qual si
vede tutto di rilievo."

The poetical account runs thus:-

"Si trova poi in una Chiesa nera
Con spettacolo fiero accompagnato
Da soldati, e da gente molto fiera,
Con la Croce alle spalle incaminato
Christo Giesu in mezzo a l'empia schiera,
Seguendolo Giovanni addolorato,
Che di Giesu sostien la sconsolata
Madre, da Maddalena accompagnata."

In the 1591 edition, the prose description of the work runs; -

"Come N. S. e condotto alla morte con la Croce sopra delle spalle,
quali si vedeno tutto di rilieuo bellissi."

I have no copy of the poetical part of this edition before me, but
believe it to be identical with the version already given.  The
impression left upon me is that the work in 1586 was only just
finished enough to allow it to be called finished, and that its full
excellence was not yet displayed to the public, though it was about
to be so very shortly.

Signor Arienta tells me that Tabachetti has adhered rather closely to
a design for the same subject by Albert Durer, but I have failed to
find the design to which he is referring.

Bordiga again calls attention to the extreme beauty of the view of
Varallo that is to be had on leaving this chapel.


This and the two following chapels are on the top of the small rise
of some fifteen or twenty feet in which Bernardino Caimi is said to
have seen a resemblance to Mount Calvary; they are approached by a
staircase which leads directly to Giovanni D'Enrico's largest work.

Bordiga says that the chapel was begun in 1589 at the expense of
Marchese Giacomo d'Adda; he probably, however, refers only to the
building itself.  It is not mentioned as even contemplated in the
1586 edition of Caccia, nor yet, unless my memory fails me, in that
of 1590.  It is not known when the terra-cotta work was begun, but it
was not yet quite finished in 1644, when, as I have said, D'Enrico

The frescoes are by Melchiorre Gilardini, and have been sufficiently
praised by other writers; they are fairly well preserved, and show,
as in the preceding chapel and in Gaudenzio's Crucifixion, how much
more is to be said for the union of painting and sculpture when both
are in the hands of capable men, than we are apt to think.  If the
reader will divest the sculpture of its colour and background, how
cold and uninteresting will it not seem in comparison even with its
present somewhat impaired splendour.  Looking at the really
marvellous results that have been achieved, we cannot refrain from a
passing regret at the spite that threw Tabachetti half a century off
Gaudenzio, instead of letting them come together, but we must take
these things as we find them.

On first seeing Giovanni D'Enrico's Nailing to the Cross we are
tempted to think it even finer than the Journey to Calvary.  The work
is larger, comprising some twenty or so more terra-cotta figures--
making about sixty in all--and ten horses, all rather larger than
life, but the first impression soon wears off and the arrangement is
then felt to be artificial as compared with Tabachetti's.  Tabachetti
made a great point when, instead of keeping his floor flat or sloping
it evenly up to any one side, he threw his stage up towards one
corner, which is much higher than any other.  The unevenness, and
irregular unevenness, of the ground is of the greatest assistance to
him, by giving him variety of plane, and hence a way of escaping
monotony without further effort on his part.  If D'Enrico had taken
his ground down from the corner up to which Tabachetti had led it, he
would have secured both continuity with Tabachetti's scene, and an
irregularly uneven surface, without repeating his predecessor's
arrangement.  True, the procession was supposed to be at the top of
Mount Calvary, but that is a detail.  As it is, D'Enrico has copied
Tabachetti in making his ground slope, but, unless my memory fails
me, has made it slope evenly along the whole width of the chapel,
from the foreground to the wall at the back--with the exception of a
small mound in the middle background.  The horses are arranged all
round the walls, and the soldiers are all alongside of the horses,
and every figure is so placed as to show itself to the greatest
advantage.  This perhaps is exaggeration, but there is enough truth
in it to help the reader who is unfamiliar with this class of work to
apprehend Tabachetti's superiority more readily than he might
otherwise do in the short time that tourists commonly have at their
disposal.  The general impression left upon myself and Jones was that
it contains much more of Giacomo Ferro than of D'Enrico; but in spite
of this it is impossible to deny that the work is important and on
the whole impressive.


Neither Fassola nor Torrotti date this work, but I have already shown
reasons for believing that it should be given to the years 1524-1528.
Fassola says that the figure of Christ on the Cross is not the
original one, which was stolen, and somehow or other found its way to
the Church of S. Andrea at Vercelli, where, according to Colombo (p.
237), a crucifix, traditionally said to be this one, was preserved
until the close of the last century.  Bordiga says that there is no
reason to believe this story.  The present crucifix is of wood, and
is probably an old one long venerated, and embodied in his work by
Gaudenzio himself, partly out of respect to public feeling, and
partly, perhaps, as an unexceptionable excuse for avoiding a great
difficulty.  The thieves also, according to Bordiga and Cusa, are of
wood, not terra-cotta, being done from models in clay by Gaudenzio as
though the wood were marble.  We may be sure there was an excellent
reason for this solitary instance of a return to wood, but it is not
immediately apparent to a layman.

We have met with the extreme figure to the spectator's left in the
Ecce Homo chapel.  He is also, as I have said, found in the Disputa
fresco, done some twenty years or so before the work we are now
considering, and we might be tempted to think that the person who was
so powerfully impressed on Gaudenzio's mind during so many years was
some Varallo notable, or failing this that he was some model whom he
was in the habit of employing.  This, however, is not so; for in the
first place the supposed model was an old man in, say, 1507, and he
is not a day older in 1527, so that in 1527 Gaudenzio was working
from a strong residuary impression of a figure with which he had been
familiar many years previously and not from life; and in the second,
we find the head repeated in the works of Milanese artists who in all
probability never came near Varallo.  We certainly find it in a
drawing, of which I give a reduced reproduction, and which the
British Museum authorities ascribe, no doubt correctly, to Bernardino
de' Conti.  I also recognise it unquestionably in a drawing in the
Windsor collection ascribed to Leonardo da Vinci--a drawing, however,
which it is not easy to think is actually by him.  I have no doubt
that a reminiscence of the same head is intended in a drawing
ascribed to Leonardo da Vinci in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, only that
the artist, whoever he may be, has added hair (which is obviously not
drawn from nature), and has not produced so good a likeness as
Gaudenzio and Bernardino de' Conti have done, but about this last I
am less certain.  At any rate there can be no doubt that the figure
represents a Milanese character who in the time of Gaudenzio's youth
was familiar to Milanese artists, and who made a deep impression upon
more than one of them.  This will be even more apparent to those who
are familiar with the terra-cotta figures at Varallo, for these can
be seen from several points of view, and a fuller knowledge of the
head is thus obtained than a flat impression from a single point can

It is not likely that the figure is that of a mere model, for it has
no, or very little connection with the action of the piece, and is
evidently placed where it is--the extreme figure to the left, which
is always a place of honour--for the sake of introducing the portrait
into the composition.  Gaudenzio would not have been so impressed,
say, with old Christie {14} as to give his portrait from memory
twenty years after he had seen him last, to put this portrait in the
place of honour, and to make the work much more emphatic as a
portrait than as the figure of an actor in his drama, inasmuch as he
has turned the head towards the spectator and away from the central
incident.  It is more probable, then, that we must look for some
well-known Milanese art-world character as the original for which the
figure was intended.

We know that Gaudenzio Ferrari studied under Stefano Scotto, and have
every reason to think that Bernardino de' Conti--who, I see, studied
in the school of Foppa, one of Scotto's predecessors, if not under
Scotto himself, must have known him perfectly well.  Leonardo da
Vinci kept the rival school at Milan, and the two schools were to one
another much what those kept by the late Mr. F. S. Cary and Mr. Lee
were some thirty years ago in London.  Leonardo, therefore, also
doubtless knew Scotto by sight if not personally.  I incline to
think, then, that we have here the original we are looking for, and
that Gaudenzio when working at what he probably regarded as the most
important work of his life determined to introduce his master, just
as I, if I were writing a novel, might be tempted to introduce a
reminiscence of my own old schoolmaster, and to make the portrait as
faithful as I could.

I am confirmed in this opinion by noting, as I have done for many
years past, that the figure next to that of Scotto is not unlike the
portraits of Leonardo da Vinci, of which I give the one (whether by
himself or no I do not know) that I believe to be the best.  I had
been reminded of Leonardo da Vinci by this figure long before I knew
of Scotto's existence, and had often wondered why he was not made the
outside and most prominent figure; now, then, that I see reason to
think the outside figure intended for Gaudenzio's own master, I
understand why the preference has been given him, and have little
doubt that next to his own master Gaudenzio has placed the other
great contemporary art-teacher at Milan whose pupil he never actually
was, but whose influence he must have felt profoundly.  I also derive
an impression that Gaudenzio liked and respected Scotto though he may
have laughed at him, but that he did not like Leonardo, who by the
way had been dead about ten years when this figure was placed where
it now is.

I see, therefore, the two figures as those of Scotto and of Leonardo
da Vinci, and think it likely that in the one portrait we have by far
the most characteristic likeness of Leonardo that has come down to
us.  In his own drawings of himself he made himself out such as he
wanted others to think him; here, if I mistake not, he has been
rendered as others saw him.  The portrait of Scotto is beyond
question an admirable likeness; it is not likely that the Leonardo is
less successful, and we find in the searching, eager, harassed, and
harassing unquiet of the figure here given a more acceptable
rendering of Leonardo's character and appearance than any among the
likenesses of himself which are more or less plausibly ascribed to
him.  The question is one of so much interest that I must defer its
fuller treatment for another work, in which I hope to deal with the
portraits of Giovanni and Gentile Bellini, and with Holbein's "Danse
des Paysans."  I have, however, given above the greater part of the
information of which I am as yet possessed upon the subject.  In
conclusion, I may say that I mentioned the matter to Signor
Boccioloni the Sindaco of Varallo, and to other friends with whom I
have discussed the question on the spot, and found that people
generally seemed to consider the case as rather a strong one.

As regards the portraits supposed to be found on the frescoes, they
are all so doubtful that I will refrain from discussing them, but
will refer my readers to Colombo.  The only exception is a portrait
of one of the Scarrognini family which is seen on the right-hand wall
above the door, the fact of the portraiture being attested by a
barbarous scrawl upon the fresco itself.

Caccia says of the work with more enthusiasm than even I can command,
but in a style of poetry which I find it fairly easy to render, that
we may see among the spectators

" . . . a maraviglia,
Vi son piu donne con la sua famiglia;"

which means in English -

"And here you may behold with wondering eyes,
Several ladies with their families."

He continues that

"Gli Angeli star nel ciel tutti dolenti
Si veggon per pieta del suo Signore,
E turbati mostrarsi gli elementi,
Privi del sole, e d' ogni suo splendore,
E farsi terremoti, e nascer venti,
Par che si veda, d' estremo dolore,
E il tutto esser non pinto ne in scultura,
Ma dell' istesso parto di Natura.

"E se a pieno volessi ricontare
Di questo tempio la bellezza, e l' arte,
Le statue, le pitture, e l' opre rare,
Saria (?) un vergar in infinite carte
Che non han queste in tutto il mondo pare,
Cerchisi pur in qual si voglia parte,
Che di Fidia, Prasitele, e d' Apelle,
Ne di Zeuxi non fur l' opre si belle."

"Search the world through in whatsoever part,
And scan each best known masterpiece of art,
In Phidias or Praxiteles or Apelles,
You will find nothing that done half so well is."

In this translation I have again attempted to preserve--not to say
pickle--the spirit of the original.

Returning to the work as a whole, if the modelled figures fail
anywhere it is in respect of action--more especially as regards the
figures to the spectator's right, which want the concert and
connection without which a scene ceases to be dramatic, and becomes a
mere assemblage of figures placed in juxtaposition.  It would be
going too far to say that complaint on this score can be justly
insisted on in respect even of these figures; nevertheless it will be
felt that Gaudenzio Ferrari the painter could harmonise his figures
and give them a unity of action which was denied to him as a
sculptor.  It must not be forgotten that his modelled work derives an
adventitious merit from the splendour of the frescoes with which it
is surrounded, and from our admiration of the astounding range of
power manifested by their author.

As a painter, it must be admitted that Gaudenzio Ferrari was second
to very few that had gone before him, but as a sculptor, he did not
do enough to attain perfect mastery over his art.  If he had done as
much in sculpture as in painting he would doubtless have been as
great a master of the one as the other; as it was, in sculpture he
never got beyond the stage of being an exceedingly able and
interesting scholar;--this, however, is just the kind of person whose
work in spite of imperfection is most permanently delightful.  Among
the defects which he might have overcome is one that is visible in
his earlier painting as well as in his sculpture, and which in
painting he got rid of, though evidently not without difficulty--I
mean, a tendency to get some of his figures unduly below life size.
I have often seen in his paintings that he has got his figures rather
below life size, when apparently intending that they should be full-
sized, and worse than this, that some are smaller in proportion than
others.  Nevertheless, when we bear in mind that the Crucifixion
chapel was the first work of its kind, that it consists of four large
walls and a ceiling covered with magnificent frescoes, comprising
about 150 figures; that it contains twenty-six life-sized statues,
two of them on horseback, and much detail by way of accessory, all
done with the utmost care, and all coloured up to nature,--when we
bear this in mind and realise what it all means, it is not easy to
refrain from saying, as I have earlier done, that the Crucifixion
chapel is the most daringly ambitious work of art that any one man
was ever yet known to undertake; and if we could see it as Gaudenzio
left it, we should probably own that in the skill with which the
conception was carried out, no less than in its initial daring, it
should rank as perhaps the most remarkable work of art that even
Italy has produced.


Fassola and Torrotti both say that the terra-cotta figures here are
by a pupil of Giovanni D'Enrico.  Bordiga says that the three figures
forming the group upon the cross were done contemporaneously with the
Nailing of Christ to the Cross, which we have already considered, and
are in the style of D'Enrico.  If so, they are not in his best style,
while the others are among the worst on the Sacro Monte, with the
exception of one, which I never even observed until last summer, so
completely is it overpowered by the worse than mediocrity with which
it is surrounded.  This figure is perhaps, take it all round, the
finest on the Sacro Monte, and is generally known as "Il Vecchietto"
or "the little old man."  It is given as the frontispiece of this

I was led to observe it by a casual remark made by my old and valued
friend Signor Dionigi Negri of Varallo, to whom I am indebted for
invaluable assistance in writing this book, and indeed at whose
instigation it was undertaken.  He told me there was a portrait of
the man who gave this part of the ground to the founders of the
Sanctuary; he was believed to be a small peasant proprietor--one of
the "alcuni particolari poueri" mentioned by Fassola as owning the
site--who, having been asked to sell the land, gave it instead.  This
was the story, but I knew that the land was given not later than
1490-1493, whereas the chapel in question is not earlier than 1630,
when no portrait of the peasant benefactor was possible.  I therefore
went to the chapel, and finding the figure, saw what must be obvious
to any one who looks at it with attention, I mean, firstly, how fine
it was, and secondly, that it had not been designed for its present

This last is clear from the hand, which from outside at first appears
to be holding a pair of pincers and a hammer, as though to assist at
the Deposition, but which proves to have been originally designed to
hold a stick--or something round, the hammer and pincers being at
present tied on with a piece of string, to a hand that is not holding
them.  I asked the opinion of Cav. Prof Antonini of Varallo and his
son, both of them admirable sculptors, and found them as decided as
myself in their admiration of the figure.  Both of them, at different
times, were good enough to go inside the chapel with me, and both
agreed with me that the figure was no part of the design of the group
in which it now is.  Cav. Prof. Antonini thought the whole right arm
had been restored, but it was getting dusk when he suggested this,
and I could not see clearly enough to form an opinion; I have the
greatest diffidence in differing from so excellent an authority, but
so far as I could see, I did not think there had been any
restoration.  I thought nothing had been done except to put a piece
of string through the hole in the hand where a stick or roll had
been, and to hang the hammer and pincers with it.  Leaving Varallo
early on the following morning, I was unable to see the figure again
by day-light, and must allow the question of restoration or non-
restoration to remain unsettled.

There is a large well-defined patch of mended ground covering the
space occupied by the figure itself.  There is no other such patch
under any other figure, and the most reasonable inference is that
some alteration has been made here.  The expression, moreover, of the
face is not suitable for a Deposition.

There is a holy tranquil smile of joy, thankfulness, and
satisfaction, which perfectly well befits one who is looking up into
the heavens, as he might at an Assumption of the Virgin, or an
Ascension, but is not the expression which so consummate an artist as
the man who made this figure, would give to a bystander at a
Deposition from the Cross.  Grief and horror, would be still too
recent to admit of the sweet serene air of ineffable contentment
which is here given.

Lastly, the style of the work is so different from that of all the
other figures in the chapel, that no solidarity can be seen between
it and them.  It would be too much to say that the others are as bad
as this is good, but the difference between Rembrandt's old woman in
our National Gallery and an average Royal Academy portrait of fifty
years ago, is not more striking than that between the Vecchietto and
his immediate neighbours.

I can find no mention of the figure in Fassola, or Torrotti.  Bordiga
says, "On the left there is a man in peasant's costume, holding his
hat in reverence of Jesus, and said to be a benefactor of the
chapel."  He does not say anything about the excellence of the
workmanship, nor, indeed, have I heard any one, except the two
sculptors, Cav. Prof. Antonini and his son, speak of the work in
terms which showed a perception of its merit.  If the world knows
little of its greatest men it seems to know not much more about its
greatest works of art, nor, if it continues to look for guidance in
this matter to professional critics and society art-dabblers, is it
likely to improve its knowledge.  Cusa says of it:-

"E fra essi un vecchietto naturale assai pel rozzo costume che veste,
e per la semplicita del atto; egli guarda Gesu in atto di levarsi il
cappello, mentre con l'altra mano tiene le tenaglie ed il martello.
Lo si dice ritratto di un Rimellese, benefattore della cappella."

I asked the two sculptors Antonini if they could help me in settling
the question to whom the work should be assigned, and they agreed
with me that it could not be given to Gaudenzio.  It is too masterly,
easy, and too like the work of Velasquez in painting, to be by one
who is not known to have done more in sculpture than some two score
or so of figures on the Sacro Monte now remaining, and a few others
that have been lost.  The Vecchietto is the work of one to whom
modelling in clay was like breathing, walking, or eating and
drinking, and Gaudenzio never reached such freedom and proficiency as

With few exceptions even the best art-work falls into one of two
classes, and offers signs either of immaturity or decline.  Take
Donatello, and Luca della Robbia, or, in painting, Giovanni Bellini,
John Van Eyck, Holbein, Giotto, and even Gaudenzio Ferarri in his
earlier work; take again, in music, Purcell and Corelli; no words of
affectionate admiration are good enough for any one of these great
men, but they none of them say the last word that is to be said in
their respective arts.  Michael Angelo said the last word; but then
he said just a word or two over.  So with Titian and Leonardo Da
Vinci, and in music with Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven.  We admire
them, and know that each in many respects surpassed everything that
has been done either before or since, but in each case (and more
especially with the three last named) we feel the presence of an
autumnal tint over all the luxuriance of development, which, while
hardly detracting from the pleasure we receive, still tells of an art
that has taken not an upward but a downward path.  I know that I am
apt to take fancies to works of art and artists; I hold, for example,
that my friend Mr. H. F. Jones's songs, of which I have given the
titles at the end of this volume, are finer than an equal number of
any written by any other living composer--and I believe that people
will one day agree with me, though they will doubtless take their
time in doing so--but with all this tendency towards extravagance I
endeavour to preserve a method in my madness, and with most works
find that they fall readily into the growing or the decaying.  It is
only with very few, as with Homer and Shakespeare at their best, the
Venus of Milo, the Ilyssus, the finest work of Rembrandt, Giorgione,
and Velasquez, and in music with Handel, that I can see no step left
unclimbed, yet none taken on the downward path.  Assuredly the
Vecchietto must be classed with the very few works which, being of
the kind of fruit that they are, are dead ripe, without one trace
either of immaturity or decay.

Difficult, however, as the problem who made this statue is, it is
simplified by the reflection that it can only be given either to
Gaudenzio or Tabachetti.  I suggested D'Enrico's name to Cav. Prof.
Antonini to see how he received it, but--thinking doubtless more of
Giacomo Ferro than of D'Enrico--he said "E-whew," and tossed his
thumb over his shoulder, as only an Italian can, as much as to say
that D'Enrico set about his figures with too light a heart to get a
Vecchietto out of them; Gaudenzio, then, being impossible and
D'Enrico ordered out of court, it only remains to give the work to
Tabachetti, with whose sleeping St. Joseph and with not a little else
of whose work it presents much analogy; for the notion that a
stranger of name unknown came to Varallo, did this single figure, and
then went away without doing any more either there or anywhere else
in the least like it, is as incredible as that it is the work of

As for the question of the source from which the figure came we
should remember that the Chiesa Vecchia dell' Assunta was pulled down
at the end of the last century; and this, considering the excellent
preservation in which the Vecchietto is still found, and the
comparatively recent appearance of the disturbance of the ground
under his feet, seems the most likely place for him to have come
from.  There were two opportunities in this church, one of which
certainly was, while the other very well might have been, made the
occasion for a group of figures with upturned heads.  The first of
these, of course, is the Assumption of the Madonna, of which Caccia
says there was a representation of her "Come ascese in Cielo, con le
statue delli dodeci Apostoli intorno di rilievo," and there may very
well have been a benefactor or so in addition.  The second was the
impress of our Saviour's last footprint on the Mount of Olives before
He ascended into heaven.  This is mentioned by Fassola as a feature
of special importance, and as having had an indulgence conceded to it
by the Pope in 1488 while it was on its road from Jerusalem.  This
relic was held in great veneration, and it is easy to imagine that
its effect may have been enhanced by surrounding it with figures
looking upwards into the heavens towards the clouds that had already
received the body of the Redeemer.  All this, however, is mere
conjecture, for there is not a tittle of evidence in support of it,
and we are left practically with nothing more than we can still see
within the limits of the figure itself to give a clue either to its
maker, or the source from which it came, but we may incline to think
that it is the portrait of a benefactor, for no one but a benefactor
would have been treated with so much realism.  The man is not a mere
peasant; his clothes are homely, but they are good, and there is that
about him which harmonises well enough with his having been in a
position of comfort.  Common peasants may be seen in the Shepherd's
chapel, and the Vecchietto is clearly of higher social status than
these.  He looks like a Valsesian yeoman or peasant proprietor, of
some substance; and he was doubtless a benefactor, not of this, but
some other chapel.

I have said there are analogies between this figure and others by
Tabachetti which after all make it not very difficult to decide the
question to whom it should be given.  We do not, indeed, find another
Vecchietto, but we shall find more than one figure that exhibits
equal truth to nature, and equal freedom from exaggeration.  It is
not possible, for example, to have greater truth to nature than we
find in the figures of Adam and Eve in the first chapel.  There is
not one trace either of too much or too little, of exaggeration or of
shortcoming; the nude figure of a man and of a woman were wanted, and
the nude figure of a man and of a woman are given, with neither more
or less modelling than what would be most naturally seen in a young
and comely couple.  So again with the charming figure of the Virgin
sewing in the First Vision of St. Joseph chapel.  The Virgin and the
Vecchietto are as unlike each other as two figures can be, but they
are both stamped with the same freedom from affectation, and the same
absolute and easy mastery over the means employed.  The same applies
to the sleeping St. Joseph, in which case there is a closer analogy
between the two figures themselves.  It applies also to a not
inconsiderable extent to the man with a goitre who is leading Christ
in the Calvary chapel.  This figure is not done from life, being a
repetition of one by Gaudenzio, but it is so living that we feel sure
it would have been more living still if Tabachetti had had the model
before him from which Gaudenzio in all probability actually worked.
At Crea, there are other figures by Tabachetti to which I will call
attention presently, and which present not inconsiderable analogies
to the Vecchietto.  I explain the fact that the analogies are not
closer, by reflecting that this is the one of the few cases in which
Tabachetti has left us a piece of portrait work, pure and simple, and
that his treatment of the head and figure in pure portraiture, would
naturally differ from that adopted in an ideal and imaginative work.


The remaining chapels are few in number, and, whatever they may once
have been, unimportant in character.  The first is


The three preceding chapels are supposed to be on Mount Calvary, and
from them we descend by a flight of stone steps to the level of the
piazza.  Immediately on reaching this we come upon the Pieta.  We
have seen that this chapel originally contained Gaudenzio's Journey
to Calvary, and that the fresco background still, in so far as it is
not destroyed, treats this subject, while the modelled figures
represent the Pieta.  Of Gaudenzio's original work Caccia says:-

"Come fu Christo de' panni spogliato,
Montando il Monte poi Calvario detto,
Nel mezzo a manigoldi mal trattato,
Contemplar possi con pietoso affetto,

Seguito da Maria e da l'amato
Discepolo di lui, et e l'effetto
Sculto si bene e doitamente fatto
Che sembra vero e non del ver ritratto."

"Per una scala asceso al Sacro Monte
Si entra nel piu d'ogn' altro sacro tempio," &c.

The words "montando il monte poi," &c., must refer to a supposed
ascent on the part of Christ Himself, for Gaudenzio's work was on a
level with Tabachetti's present Journey to Calvary which Caccia has
just described, and Caccia goes on to say that from Gaudenzio's
chapel (the present Pieta) one "ascends by a staircase to" the most
sacred chapel of all--the Crucifixion--as one does at present.  That
the present Pieta and the adjacent Entombment chapels were once one
chapel, may be seen by any one who examines the vaulting inside the
first-named chapel.  Signor Arienta pointed this out to me, and at
the same time called my attention to the fact that Gaudenzio's fresco
on the wall facing the spectator does not turn the corner and join on
with the subject that fills the left-hand wall.  A flag and a horse
are cut off, and the rest of them is not seen.  I sometimes question
whether the original wooden-figured entombment was in the chapel in
which the present modern figures are seen, but it probably was so.

There was also a fainting Madonna mentioned in the prose part of
Caccia as a work by itself and described as follows:-

"Come la Madonna e tramortita vedendo N.S. condotto a morte."

This is not referred to in the poetical part, and must have been a
mere cell occupied by a single figure.  No doubt it was seen through
the window that is still approached by two steps on the south side of
the present Pieta, and the space it occupied has been thrown into the
present work.

I do not know when Gaudenzio's Journey to Calvary was dispersed, but
it was some time, doubtless, between 1600 and 1644.  It is puzzling
to note that the Pieta appears in the plan of 1671 as situated rather
in the part of the building now occupied by the Entombment than by
the Pieta, while the 39 that should mark the site of the Entombment
does not appear; but this is perhaps only an error in the plan
itself.  I find, however, the attempt to understand the changes that
have taken place here so difficult that I shall abandon it and will
return to the present aspect of the work.

Torrotti says that some of the statues in the present chapel are by
Gaudenzio, which they are not.  Fassola gives them all to Giovanni
D'Enrico; Bordiga speaks of the work in the highest terms, but for my
own part I do not admire it, nor, I am afraid, can I accept the more
fresh-looking parts of the fresco background as by Gaudenzio.  I do
not doubt that his work has been in these parts repainted, and that
the outlines alone are really his.  It is not likely we have lost
much by the repainting, for where the work has not been touched it
has so perished as to be hardly worth preserving, and we may think
that what has been repainted was in much the same state.  This is the
only chapel in which Gaudenzio's frescoes at Varallo have been much
repainted.  If those in the Crucifixion and Magi chapels have been
retouched they have taken little harm; the frescoes in the church of
Sta. Maria delle Grazie have certainly not been touched, and are in
such good preservation that it may be questioned whether they ever
looked much better than they do now.  The fine oil picture in the
church of S. Gaudenzio has gone a little yellow through the darkening
of the oil, but is in a good state, and generally, though no painter
of the highest rank has been so much neglected, or suffered more from
the actual destruction of his works, yet for the most part Gaudenzio
has been spared the reckless restoration which is the most cruel ill
that can befall an artist.


We have already seen that this was the first chapel with figures in
it on the Sacro Monte.  Of the old eight wooden figures that it
contained, two are still on the mountain in a sort of vault adjacent
to, or under, the main church, and near the furnace in which those
that superseded them were baked.  Six are in the Museum at Varallo.
I saw them a few weeks ago, not yet arranged, leaning up against the
wall with very battered and dilapidated glories; the recumbent Christ
was standing more or less on end, and the whole group was in a
pathetic state of dismemberment that will doubtless soon make way for
a return to their earlier arrangement.  The figures are interesting,
but it cannot be pretended that they are of great value.  They look
very much as if they had been out somewhere the night before.

Of the figures in the present chapel the less said the better.


The chapel of St. Francis is open to the air, and contains nothing
but an altar, and a modern fresco of the death of the saint.

Near it is the Holy Sepulchre, which is entered from a small cell in
which there is a figure of the Magdalene, and from which the visitor
must creep on hands and knees into the Sepulchre itself.  The figure
of Christ is not actually in the Sepulchre, but can be seen through a
window opening into the contiguous chapel, where it is over the
altar.  The early writers say that there were also two angels by
Gaudenzio (statue di Gaudenzio divoissime), but Bordiga says nothing
of this.  The upper part of this building was the abode of Bernardino
Caimi and his successors until the year 1577.

As for the Holy Sepulchre itself it is low and dark, which I have no
doubt is the reason why I have neglected it on the occasions of each
of my two latest visits to Varallo, and thus failed to reach the
adjacent Oratory, which Bordiga says was erected about the year 1702.
Fassola and Torrotti wrote before this date, so that the angels
mentioned by them as by Gaudenzio may have been removed when the
present fabric was erected.  At any rate Bordiga speaks as though
they were paintings by one Tarquinio Grassi and not sculptured
figures at all.  Torrotti says that visitors to the Holy Sepulchre
used to burn candles, tapers, and torches, each one according to his
purse or piety, and that they did this not so much to see with as to
pray.  "Here," he continues, "the great S. Carlo spent his evenings
agreeably" (spendeva gradevolmente le notti).  "Few," he concludes
drily, and perhaps with a shade of the same quiet irony that led the
Psalmist to say what he did about "one" day in certain courts, "can
leave it without feeling devoutly thankful."  About the candles
Fassola says that there was a kind of automatic arrangement for
getting them like that whereby we can now buy butter-scotch or
matches at the railway stations, by dropping a penny into a slot.  He

"And as the figure of Christ can only be seen by the help of candles
(for which reason all pilgrims whose means permit are accustomed to
burn them, being naturally prompted thereto each one according to his
faith)--by throwing money into a hole wherein the same candles lie,
each pilgrim can be made quite comfortable, and contented."

["Gettando il denaro per un buco dove stanno le medesime candelette,
commodamente puo restar ogni divoto contento."]

"The mercies vouchsafed here," continues the same writer; "are
innumerable--in all parts may be seen votive pictures both old and

In the open cloister hard by is shown the wooden bed on which S.
Carlo lay when he came to visit the Sacro Monte, and the stone which
is said to be a facsimile of the one rolled in front of the Holy
Sepulchre itself.  Many years ago I spent several weeks at Varallo
sketching and painting on the Sacro Monte.  A most excellent and
lovable old priest, now doubtless long since dead, took rather a
fancy to me, and used to implore me to become a Catholic.  One day he
took me up to this stone and spoke long and earnestly about it.  What
a marvellous miracle it was.  There was the stone; I could see it for
myself.  What a dumb but eloquent testimony was it not offering; how
could I account for such things? and more to the same effect, all
said obviously in good faith, and with no idea save that of guiding
me to the truth.  I was powerless.  I could not go into facts or
arguments--I could not be obstinate without getting something like
his consent--and he was instant in season and out of season in
endeavouring to get mine.  At last I could stand it no longer, and
said, "My dearest sir, I am the son of an English clergyman who is
himself the son of another English clergyman; my father and mother
are living.  If you will tell me that I am to hold my father born in
more than common sin, to have committed a crime in marrying my
mother, and that I am to hold myself as one who ought never to have
been born, then I will accept what you have said about that stone.
Till then let me go my way, and you yours."  He said not a word more,
and never again approached the subject; the nearest he ever went to
it was to say that he liked to see me sketching about the Sacro
Monte, for it could do me nothing but good.  I trust that I have done
it no harm.

The chapel representing the Magdalene at the feet of the risen Christ
has disappeared.  It contained two statues only, and two prophets by
Gaudenzio were painted outside on the wall.  It stood "Sotto un
auanzo dei Portici antichi seguentemente al Sepolcro."  It was
probably a very early work.

Through an arch under the raised portico or arcaded gallery are three
small ruined cells called now "Il Paradiso," and numbered 43, 44, and
45; of one of these Fassola tells us that it contained "many modern
statues" by Gaudenzio Sceti, and frescoes by Gianoli; they are all
now mere wrecks.  There is no important work by Gaudenzio Sceti
remaining on the Sacro Monte, but there is a terra-cotta crucifix
with a Virgin and a St. John by him, of no great value, in the church
of S. Gaudenzio.  What remains of his work on the Sacro Monte itself
consists of statues of Sta. Anna and the Virgin as a child upon her
lap in the chapel or cell numbered 43.

Chapel 44 need not detain us.  What few remains of figures it
contains are uninteresting and ruined.

I have already spoken of chapel No. 45, which once represented an
entombment of the Madonna, as in all probability the oldest building,
and as certainly containing the oldest, and by no means least
interesting frescoes on the Sacro Monte.  There is nothing inside the
chapel except these frescoes, but outside it there are many scrawls,
of which the earliest I have noticed is 1520--the supposed 1437 being
certainly 1537.  The writer of one of these scrawls has added the
words "fuit hic" to his signature as John Van Eyck has done to the
signature of his portrait of John Arnolfini and his wife.  I have
found this addition of "fuit hic" in a signature of a certain
"Cardinalis de al . . . " who scratched his name "1389 die 19 Mag" on
a fresco to the left of the statue of S. Zenone in the church S.
Zenone at Verona.  On a fresco in the very interesting castle of
Fenis in the valley of Aosta, to which I hope to return in another
work, there is scratched "Hic sponsus cum sponsa fuit 1790 25 May,"
the "May" being an English May; Jones and I thought the writer had
begun to add "London" but had stopped.  The "fuit hic," therefore, of
John Van Eyck's signature should not be translated as we might be
tempted to wish to translate it, "This was John Van Eyck."

Returning to the Sacro Monte, there remains only the Chiesa Vecchia,
removed at the end of the last century to make room for the building
that was till lately the "casa degli esercizi," or house in which the
priests on the mountain performed their spiritual exercises.  This is
now let out in apartments during the summer, and is called the
Casino.  The old sacristy, now used as the archivio of the Sacro
Monte, still remains, and contains a fresco by Lanini, that bears
strong traces of the influence of his master Gaudenzio.  Besides the
impress of Christ's foot and the Assumption of the Virgin, the church
contained an Annunciation by Gaudenzio and frescoes of St. Catherine
and St. Cecilia; the Cupola was also decorated by him.  This work was
undertaken in 1530, the greater angels being by Gaudenzio and the
smaller by Lanini and Fermo Stella.  These frescoes all perished when
the church was pulled down.

The present Chiesa Maggiore was begun on the 9th of June 1614--
D'Enrico's design having, so Bordiga says, been approved on the 1st
of April in that year.  Fassola says that in 1671 the only parts
completed were the Choir and Cupola, the whole body of the church
being left unfinished.  Bordiga speaks of the church as having been
finished in 1649, in which year, on the feast of the Birth of the
Virgin, her image was taken from the old church and placed in the
new, so when Fassola says "unfinished" he must refer to decoration
only.  The steps leading up to the church and the unfinished columns
were erected in 1825 from designs by Marchese Don Luigi Cagnola, the
architect of the Arco della Pace at Milan.  It was ere long found
that the stone selected was unreliable, so that all must be done over
again; the work has, therefore, been suspended.

The Cupola is covered with about 140 modelled figures of angels, by
Dionigi Bussola and Giambattista Volpino, Milanese sculptors, who
worked from designs made by Antonio Tempesta, a Florentine.  They did
this work about the year 1660.  The brothers Montalti painted the
frescoes, some more highly coloured groups being added by Antonio
Cucchi of Milan in 1750.

In the crypt there is a sumptuous shrine containing the statue of the
Madonna, said to have been made by St. Luke.  This was erected in
1854, but on the night between the 4th and 5th of October in the same
year the crown was stolen from the Virgin's head, and in the
following year there was a solemn expiatory function, with
festivities extending over three days, in order to celebrate the
replacing of the stolen crown by a new one.

It cannot be said that any of the works of art now in the church are
of considerable interest, but an important work of art was
nevertheless produced in it at the celebration of the fourth
centenary of the birth of Gaudenzio Ferrari, which was held in 1885.
I refer to the Mass by Cagnoni, which was here performed for the
first time, and which showed that the best traditions of old Italian
ecclesiastical music are still occasionally adhered to.  I was
present at the production of the work, and have heard no modern
Italian music that has pleased me nearly as much.  I ventured to ask
the Maestro for the baton he had used in conducting it, and am proud
to keep it as a memorial of a fine performance of a very fine work.
The baton is several old newspapers neatly folded up and covered with


I have now to add a short account of what remains of Tabachetti's
work at Crea, to the very inadequate description of his work at
Varallo that has been given in some earlier chapters.

Crea is most easily approached from Casale, a large opulent
commercial town upon the Po, that has already received the waters of
the Dora Baltea, and though not yet swelled by the influx of the
Ticino and Adda, has become a noble river.  The town is built
entirely on the plain, but the rich colline of the Monferrato
district begin to rise immediately outside it, and continue in an
endless series of vineclad slopes and village-capped hill-tops as far
as the eye can reach.  These colline are of exquisite beauty in
themselves, and from their sides the most magnificent views of
Piedmont and the Alps extend themselves in every direction.  The
people are a well-grown comely race, kind and easy to get on with.
Nothing could exceed the civility and comfort of the Hotel Rosa
Rossa, the principal inn of the city.  The town contains many
picturesque bits, but in our short stay we did not see any very
remarkable architectural features, and it does not form an exception
to the rule that the eastern cities of Northern Italy are far more
beautiful than the western.  The churches, never one would imagine
very striking, have been modernised and restored; nor were we told
that there is any collection of pictures in the town which is likely
to prove of interest.

The visitor should leave Casale by the 7.58 A.M. train on the line
for Asti, and get out at Serralunga, the third station on the road.
Here the sanctuary of Crea can be seen crowning a neighbouring
collina with a chapel that has an arcaded gallery running round it,
like some of those at Varese.  Many other chapels testify to the
former importance of the place; on the whole, however, the effect of
the buildings cannot compare with that of the sanctuaries of Varallo
and Varese.  Taking a small carriage, which can always be had at the
station (fare, to the sanctuary and back, eight francs), my friend,
Mr. H. F. Jones, and myself ascended to Serralunga, finding the views
continually become more and more bewitching as we did so; soon after
passing through Serralunga we reached the first chapel, and after
another zigzag or two of road found ourselves in the large open court
in front of the church.  Here there is an inn, where any one who is
inclined to do so could very well sleep.  The piazza of the sanctuary
is some two thousand feet above the sea, and the views are in some
respects finer even than those from the Sacro Monte of Varese itself,
inasmuch as we are looking towards the chain of the Alps, instead of
away from them.

We have already seen that the sanctuary at Crea was begun about 1590,
a hundred years or so later than the Sacro Monte of Varallo, and a
dozen years earlier than that of Varese.  The church attached to the
convent, in which a few monks still remain, contains a chapel with
good frescoes by Macrino D'Alba; they are somewhat damaged, and the
light is so bad that if the guardiano of the sanctuary had not kindly
lent us a candle we could not have seen them.  It is not easy to
understand how they can have been painted in such darkness; they are,
however, the most important work of this painter that I have yet
seen, and give a more favourable impression of him than is likely to
be formed elsewhere.  Behind the high altar there is an oil picture
also by Macrino d'Alba, signed as by the following couplet, which
they may scan who can:

"Hoc tibi, diva parens, posuit faciente Macrino
Bladratensis opus Johes ille Jacobus.1503."

The "Macrino," and "1503," are in red paint, the rest in black.  The
picture is so dark, and the view of it so much obstructed by the high
altar, that it is impossible to see it well, but it seemed good.
There is nothing else in the church, nor need the frescoes in the
chapels containing the terra-cotta figures be considered; we were
told they were painted by Caccia, better known as Moncalvo, but we
could see nothing in them to admire.  The sole interest of the
sanctuary--except, of course, the surpassing beauty of its position--
is vested in what few remains of Tabachetti's work may be found
there, and in the light that these may throw upon what he has left at

All the work by Tabachetti now remaining at Crea consists of the
Martyrdom of St. Eusebius chapel, almost all of which is by him,
perhaps a figure or two in the Sposalizio chapel, but certainly not
the figures of St. Joseph and the Virgin, which are not even ascribed
to him, the Virgin in the Annunciation chapel, some parts of the
Judith and Holofernes, with which this subject is strangely backed;
some few of the figures in the Marriage Feast at Cana chapel, and
lastly, the wreck, which is all that remains, of the Assumption of
the Virgin--commonly called "Il Paradiso."  All the other chapels are
either in a ruined state or have been renewed with modern figures
during the last thirty years, and more especially during the last
ten, at the instance, and, as we understood, at the expense, of the
present Archbishop of Milan, who does his campagna here every summer.

The most important chapel is the Martyrdom of St. Eusebius, below the
sanctuary itself.  The saint is supposed to have been martyred in
front of the church of St. Andrea at Vercelli.  Some four or so of
the figures to the spectator's right are modern restorations; among
them, however, there is a child of extreme sweetness and beauty,
which must certainly be by Tabachetti, looking up and clinging to the
dress of its mother, who has been restored, and is as commonplace as
the child is the reverse.  There are two restored or rather entirely
new priests close by the mother and child, and near these is another
new figure--a girl immediately to the child's right; this is so
absurdly bad and out of proportion that it is not easy to understand
how even the restorer can have allowed himself to make it.  All the
rest of the figures are by Tabachetti.  A little behind the mother
and child, but more to the spectator's right, and near to the wall of
the chapel, there stands a boy one of whose lower eyelids is
paralysed, and whose expression is one of fear and pain.  This figure
is so free alike from exaggeration or shortcoming, that it is hard to
praise it too highly.  Another figure in the background to the
spectator's left--that of a goitred cretin who is handing stones to
one of the stoners, has some of the same remarkably living look as is
observable in the two already referred to; so also has another man in
a green skull-cap, who is holding a small battle-axe and looking over
the stoner's shoulders.  Two of the stoners are very powerful
figures.  The man on horseback, in the background, appears to be a
portrait probably of a benefactor.  In spite of restoration, the work
is still exceedingly impressive.  The figures behind the saint act
well together, the crowd is a crowd--a one in many, and a many in
one--not, as with every one except Tabachetti who has tried to do a
crowd in sculpture, a mere collection of units, that, whatever else
they may be, are certainly not crowding one another.  The main
drawback of the work is that the chapel is too small for the subject-
-a matter over which Tabachetti probably had no control.

It is with very great regret that I have been unable to photograph
the work, but I was flatly refused permission to do so, though I
applied through influential people to the Archbishop himself.  No one
need be at the trouble of going to see it who is not already
impressed with a sense of Tabachetti's in some respects unrivalled
genius, and who does not know how to take into consideration the evil
influences of all sorts with which he was surrounded; those, however,
who realise the magnitude of the task attempted, who will be at the
pains of putting themselves, as far as may be, in the artist's place
and judging of the work from the stand-point intended by him, and who
will also in their imagination restore the damage which three
centuries of exposure and restoration must assuredly have involved,
will find themselves rewarded by a fuller comprehension of the work
of a sculptor of the foremost rank than they can attain elsewhere
except at Varallo itself.

I have said that some of the figures in the Sposalizio chapel, except
Joseph and Mary, are ascribed to Tabachetti.  I do not know on what
grounds the ascription rests; they have been restored,--clogged with
shiny paint, and suffered every ill that could well befall them short
of being broken up and carted away.  Any one who sampled Tabachetti
by these figures might well be disappointed; two or three may be by
him, but hardly more.  In spite, however, of all that may be justly
urged against them, they are marked by the same attempt at concert
and unity of purpose which goes so far to redeem individual
comparative want of interest.  In the background is a coloured bas-
relief of Rachel and Jacob at the well and five camels.

In the Annunciation chapel the Virgin may well be, as she is said to
be, by Tabachetti; she is a very beautiful figure, though not so fine
as his Madonna and Child in the church of St. Gaudenzio at Varallo;
she has been badly painted, and it is hard to say how much she has
not suffered in consequence.  Some parts of the story of Judith and
Holofernes in the background are also good, but I do not think I
should have seen Tabachetti in them unless I had been told that he
was there.

The wreck of the chapel commonly called "Il Paradiso" crowns the
hill, conspicuous for many a mile in every direction, but on reaching
the grating we found no trace of the figures that doubtless once
covered the floor of the chapel.  All that remained was a huge
pendant of angels, cherubs, and saints, swarming as it were to the
ceiling in an inextricable knot of arms, legs, wings, faces, and
flowing drapery; two circles of saints, bishops, and others, who
might be fitly placed in Paradise, rising one above the other high up
the walls of the chapel--the lower circle full-length figures, and
the other half-length; and above this a higher and richly coloured
crown of musical saints and angels in good preservation.  In passing
I may say that this is the place where the Vecchietto ought to have
come from, though it is not likely that he did so.

The pendant retains much of its original colour, and must once have
been a gorgeous and fitting climax.  Still, no one can do much with
such a subject.  To attempt it is to fly in the face of every canon
by the observance of which art can alone give lasting pleasure.  It
is to crib, cabin, and confine, within the limits of well-defined
sensation and perception, ideas that are only tolerable when left in
the utmost indefiniteness consistent with thought at all.  It is
depressing to think that he who could have left us portrait after
portrait of all that was noblest and loveliest in the men and women
of his age--who could give a life such as no one but himself, at any
rate at that time, could give--should have had to spend months if not
years upon a work that even when new can have been nothing better
than a magnificent piece of stage decoration.

But of such miscarriages the kingdom of art is full.  In the kingdom
of art not only are many called and few chosen, but the few that do
get chosen are for the most part chosen amiss, or are lavished in the
infinite prodigality of nature.  We flatter ourselves that among the
kings and queens of art, music, and literature, or at any rate in the
kingdom of the great dead, all wrongs shall be redressed, and patient
merit shall take no more quips and scorns from the unworthy:  there,
if an able artist, as, we will say, F. H. Potter just dead, dies
poor, neglected, and unable to fight his way through the ranks of men
with not a tenth part of his genius, there, at any rate, shall right
be done; there the mighty shall be put down from his seat, and the
lowly and meek, if clever as well as good, shall meet his just
reward.  It is not so.  There is no circle so exalted but the devil
has got the run of it.  As for the reputations of the great dead,
they are governed in the main by the chicane that obtains among the
living; it is only after generations of flourishing imposture, that
even approximate right gets done.  Look at Raphael, see how he still
reigns supreme over those who have the people's ears and purses at
command.  True, Guido, Guercino, and Domenichino have at last tumbled
into the abyss, and we know very well that Raphael will ere long fall
too, but Guido, Guercino, and Domenichino had a triumph of some two
hundred years, during which none dared lift hand against them.  Look
again at that grossest of impostors--Bacon.  Look at by far the
greater number of the standard classical authors, painters, and
musicians.  All that can be said is that there is a nisus in the
right direction which is not wholly in vain, and that though tens of
thousands of men and women of genius are as dandelion seeds borne
upon the air and perishing without visible result, yet there is here
and there a seed that really does take root and spring upwards to be
a plant on the whole more vigorous than that from which it sprung.
Right and truth and justice, in their relation to human affairs, are
as asymptotes which, though continually drawing nearer and nearer to
the curve, can never reach it but by a violation of all on which
their own existence is founded.

As for the Assumption chapel, those who would see it even as a wreck
should lose no time; it is in full process of restoration; it is
swept and garnished for immediate possession by a gentleman whom we
met on the road down, and whose facility of execution in making
crucified Christs out of plaster of Paris is something almost
incredible.  His type of face was Jewish, and it struck both Jones
and me that his proficiency must be in some degree due to hereditary
practice.  He showed us one crucifix which he had only begun at eight
o'clock that morning, and by eleven was as good as finished.  He told
us he had done the brand new Disputa chapel and the Agony in the
Garden with the beautiful blue light thrown all over Christ through
deep French ultramarine glass, and he was now going on with the other
chapels as fast as he could.  He said they had no oven for baking
terra-cotta figures; besides, terra-cotta was such a much slower
material to work in; he could make a gross of apostles in plaster
more quickly than a single set of twelve in terra-cotta, and the
effect was just as good when painted; so plaster of Paris and
unrivalled facility of execution are to have everything their own
way.  Already what I can only call a shoddy bishop or pope or two, I
forget which, have got in among the circle of Tabachetti's saints and
angels that still remains.  These are many of them portraits full of
serious dignity and unspotted by the world of barocco with which
Tabachetti was surrounded.  At the present moment they have been
partly scraped and show as terra-cotta; no doubt they have suffered
not a little in the scraping and will do so still further when they
are repainted, but there is no help for it.  Great works of art have
got to die like everything else.

And, after all, it is as well they should, lest they come to weigh us
down too heavily.  Why should a man live too long after he is dead?
For a while, yes, if he has done good service in his generation, give
him a new lease of life in the hearts and memories of his successors,
but do not let even the most eminent be too exacting; do not let them
linger on as nonagenarians when their strength is now become but
labour and sorrow.  We have statutes of mortmain to restrain the dead
hand from entering in among the living--why not a statute of
limitations or "a fixed period" as against reputations and works of
art--say a thousand years or so--behind which time we will resolutely
refuse to go, except in rare cases by acclamation of the civilised
world?  How is it to end if we go on at our present rate, with huge
geological formations of art and book middens accreting in every city
of Europe?  Who is to see them, who even to catalogue them?  Remember
the Malthusian doctrine, and that the mind breeds in even more rapid
geometrical ratio than the body.  With such a surfeit of art and
science the mind pails and longs to be relieved from both.  As the
true life which a man lives is not in that consciousness in the midst
of which the thing he calls "himself" sits and the din and roar of
which confuse and deafen him, but in the life he lives in others, so
the true life a man's work should live after his death is not in the
mouths but in the lives of those that follow him; in these it may
live while the world lasts, as his lives who invented the wheel or
arch, but let it live in the use which passeth all praise or thanks
or even understanding, and let the story die after a certain time as
all things else must do.

Perhaps; but at any rate let us give them decent burial.  Crush the
wounded beetle if you will, but do not try to mend it.  I am glad to
have seen the remains of the Assumption chapel while they are in
their present state, but am not sure whether I would not rather see
them destroyed at once, than meet the fate of restoration that is in
store for them.  At the same time I am confident that no more
competent restorer than the able and eminent sculptor who has the
work in hand is at all likely to be found.  My complaint is not
against him, but against the utter hopelessness of the task.  I would
again urge those who may be induced to take an interest in
Tabachetti's work to lose no time in going to see what still remains
of it at Crea.

Last January I paid a second visit to Crea; and finding a scaffolding
up, was able to get on a level with the circle of full-length
figures.  They were still unpainted, the terra-cotta figures showing
as terra-cotta and the plaster of Paris white.  When they are all
repainted the visitor will find it less easy to say which are new
figures and which old.  I will therefore say that of the lower circle
of twenty full-length figures the only two entirely new figures are
the sixth to the left of the door on entering, which represents a man
holding an open book by his left hand and resting it on his thigh,
and the sixth figure to the right of the door on entering.  There are
several unimportant restorations of details of dress, feet, and
clouds; the rest of the work in this circle is all by Tabachetti.

In the circle of busts and half-length figures, the first new work to
the left of the door on entering is a figure that holds a lamb, the
two half-length figures that come next in sequence are also new--the
second of these is a nun holding a little temple.  The second upper
choir of angels and saints is still in its original [?] colour and
seems to have been little touched, as also the pendant.

The chapel containing the Marriage Feast at Cana has been much
restored and badly repainted.  Most of the figures are very poor, but
some, and especially a waiter with his hair parted down the middle,
who is offering a hare (not cut up) to a guest who seems to have had
too much already, are very good indeed.  I find it difficult to think
that this waiter can be by any one but Tabachetti.  The guitar-player
is good, or rather was good before he was repainted--so is a lady
near him, so are some of the waiters at the other end, and so are the
bride and bridegroom; at any rate they are life-like and effective as
seen from outside, but the chapel has suffered much from restoration.

There is one other chapel at Crea which may be by Tabachetti though I
do not know that it is ascribed to him, I mean the one containing
figures of the founder and his wife, a little below the main piazza.
The shepherds and sheep to the left are probably not by Tabachetti,
but the lady is a well-modelled figure.  Both she, however, and her
husband have been so cruelly clogged with new paint that it is hard
to form an opinion about them.

On the piazza itself is a chapel representing the Birth of the Virgin
which is also pleasing.  It is not always easy for us English to tell
the Birth of the Virgin from the Nativity, and it may help the reader
to distinguish these subjects readily if he will bear in mind, that
at the Birth of the Virgin the baby is always going to be washed--
which never happens at the Nativity; this, and that the Virgin's
mother is almost invariably to have an egg, and generally a good deal
more, whereas the Virgin never has anything to eat or drink.  The
Virgin's mother always wants keeping up.  Gaudenzio Ferrari has a
Birth of the Virgin in the Church of S. Cristoforo at Vercelli.  The
Virgin's mother is eating one egg with a spoon, and there is another
coming in on a tray, which I think is to be beaten up in wine.
Something more substantial to follow is coming in on a hot plate with
a cover over it and a napkin.  The baby is to be washed of course,
and the kind old head nurse is putting her hand in the bath, while
the under nurse pours in the hot water, to make sure that the
temperature is exactly right.  It is to be just nicely loo-warm.  The
bath itself is certainly a very little one; it will hold about a pint
and a half, but medieval washing apparatus did run rather small, and
Gaudenzio was not going to waste more of his precious space than he
could help upon so uninteresting an object as a bath; in actual life
the bath was doubtless larger.  The under-under nurse is warming a
towel, which will be nicely ready when the bath is over.  Joachim
appears to have been in very easy circumstances, and the arrangements
could hardly be more commodious even though the event had taken place
at a certain well-known establishment in the Marylebone Road.

At Milan, in a work that I only know by Pianazzi's engraving, there
are two eggs coming in on a tray, and they too, I should say, are to
be beaten up in wine.  The under nurse is again filling a very little
bath with warm water, and the head nurse is trying the temperature
with her hand.  There is no room for the warming of the towel, but
there is no question that the towel is being warmed just out of the
picture on the left hand.  Here, at Crea, the attendant is giving the
Virgin's mother a plain boiled egg, and has a spoon in her hand with
which she is going to crack it.  The Virgin's mother is frowning and
motioning it away; she is quite as well as can be expected; still she
does not feel equal to taking solid food, and the nurse is saying,
"Do try, ma'am, just one little spoonful, the doctor said you was to
have it, ma'am."  In the smaller picture by Carpaccio at Bergamo she
is again to have an egg; in the larger she is to have some broth now,
but a servant can be seen in the kitchen plucking a fowl for dear
life, so probably the larger picture refers to a day or two later
than the earlier.

The only other thing that struck us at Crea was the Virgin in the
Presentation chapel.  She is so much too small that one feels as
though there must be some explanation that is not obvious.  She is
not more than 2 ft. 6 in. high, while the High Priest, and Joachim
and St. Anne are all life-sized.  The Chief Priest is holding up his
hands, and seems a good deal surprised, as though he were saying--
"Well, St. Anne my dear, I must say you are the very smallest Virgin
that I ever had presented to me during the whole course of my
incumbency."  Joachim and St. Anne seem very much distressed, and
Joachim appears to be saying, "It is not our fault; I assure you,
sir, we have done everything in our power.  She has had plenty of
nourishment."  There must be some explanation of the diminutive size
of the figure that is not apparent.


Returning to Varallo, in the town itself the most important work is
the fresco by Gaudenzio Ferrari in the church of Sta. Maria delle
Grazie, already several times referred to.  The reader will find it
fully described in the pages of Colombo; moreover, in January last
Signor Pizetta took excellent negatives of all the compartments into
which the work is divided, and I learn that he has sent impressions--
put together so as to give a very good idea of the work--to the
Italian Exhibition that will open as these pages leave my hands.  I
have myself also sent to the same Exhibition a few unreduced
impressions from the negatives used in the illustrations that face
earlier pages:  these will give the reader a more correct impression
of the works from which they are taken than he can get from the
reduction.  I do not yet know whether they will be hung.

The fresco of Sta. Petronilla painted by Gaudenzio by moonlight on a
chapel just outside the town, is now little more than a wreck.

There are a few works by Gaudenzio of no great importance in the
Pinacoteca of the Museum; a few frescoes by Lanini, one or two
drawings by Tanzio D'Enrico, which show that he was a well-trained
draughtsman; two pictures by him, barocco in character, but not
without power, and other works of more or less interest, are also in
the Pinacoteca.

In the parish church of S. Gaudenzio, behind the altar, there is an
exceedingly fine Ancona by Gaudenzio, to which I have already
referred.  Over an altar in the north transept, but for the most part
hidden behind a painted tela, is Tabachetti's very beautiful Madonna
del Rosario, which the visitor should ask the Sacristan to show him;
and last, but hardly least, there is a Madonna by Dedomenici of
Rossa--a village higher up the Valsesia--painted on linen, in the
chapel dedicated to St. Joseph.

I referred to this last-named work in my book "Alps and Sanctuaries"
(pp. 177, &c.), and have seen no reason to modify the opinion I then
expressed.  I may repeat that about twenty years ago I was much
struck with the painting and could not make out its strong and
evidently unaffected medieval feeling, yet modernness at the same
time.  On consulting the Sacristan I learned that Dedomenici had died
about 1840.  He added that the extraordinary thing was that
Dedomenici had never studied painting, and had never travelled out of
the Valsesia; that he had, in fact, acquired his art by doing rather
than by learning how to do.

This, as it appeared to me, explained his excellence.  As a general
rule the more people study how to do things the more hopelessly
academic they become.  Learning how to say ends soon in having
nothing to say.  Learning how to paint, in having nothing that one so
longs to paint as to be unable to keep one's hands off it.  It
gratifies the lust of doing sufficiently to appease it, and then
kills it.  Learning how to write music, ends in the dreary
symphonies, operas, cantatas, and oratorios which it seems are all
that modern composers can give us.  The only way to study an art is
to begin at once with doing something that one wants very badly to
do, and doing it--even though it be only very badly.  Study, of
course, but synchronously--letting the work be its own exercises.

If a man defers doing till he knows how to do, when is the hunting
the ignis fatuus of a perfect manner to end, and the actual work that
he is to leave behind him to begin?  I know nothing so deadening, as
a long course of preliminary study in any art, and nothing so living
as work plunged into at once by one who is studying hard--over it,
rather than in preparation for it.  Jones talking with me once on
this subject, and about agape as against gnosis in art, said, "Oh
that men should put an enemy into their brains to steal away their
hearts."  At any rate he and I have written "Narcissus" on these
principles, and are not without hope that what it has lost in
erudition it may have gained in freshness.  I have, however, dealt
with the question of how to study painting more at length in the
chapter on the Decline of Italian art in "Alps and Sanctuaries."

I said I would return to the chapel of Loreto a little way out of
Varallo on the road to Novara.  This work has a lunette which is
generally, and I suppose correctly, ascribed to Gaudenzio.  It is
covered with frescoes not of extraordinary merit, but still
interesting, and the chapel itself is extremely beautiful.  I had
intended dwelling upon it at greater length, but find that my space
will not allow me to do so, though I shall hope to describe it more
fully in another work on Italy, for which I have many notes that I
have been unable to use here.

And now to conclude.  A friend once said to me on the Sacro Monte,
"How is it that they have no chapel of the Descent of the Holy
Spirit?"  I answered that the work of Gaudenzio Ferrari, Tabachetti,
D'Enrico, and Paracca was a more potent witness to, and fitter temple
for, the Holy Spirit, than any that the hands even of these men could
have made for it expressly.  For that there is a Holy Spirit, and
that it does descend on those that diligently seek it, who can for a
moment question?  A man may speak lightly of the Father and it shall
be forgiven him; he may speak lightly of the Son and it shall be
forgiven him; but woe to him if he speak lightly of that Divine
Spirit, inspiration of which alone it is that makes a work of art
either true or permanently desirable.

Of the letter in which the Sacro Monte is written, I have at times in
the preceding pages spoken lightly enough.  Who in these days but the
advocates whose paid profession it is to maintain the existing order,
and those whom custom and vested interests hold enthralled, accepts
the letter of Christianity more than he accepts the letter of
Oriental exaggerated phraseology?  If three days and three nights
means in reality only thirty-six hours, so should full fifty per
cent. be deducted wherever else seems necessary, and "dead" be read
as "very nearly dead," and "the Son of God" as "rarely perfect man."
Who, on the other hand, that need be reckoned with, denies the
eternal underlying verity that there is an omnipresent unknown
something for which Mind, Spirit, or God, is, as Professor Mivart has
well said, "the least misleading" expression?  Who doubts that this
Mind or God is immanent throughout the whole universe, sustaining it,
guiding it, living in it, he in it and it in him?  I heard of one not
long since who said he had been an atheist this ten years--and added,
"thank God."  Who, again, doubts that the spirit of self-sacrifice
for a noble end is lovelier and brings more peace at the last than
one of self-seeking and self-indulgence?  And who doubts that of the
two great enemies both to religion and science referred to in the
passage I have taken for my motto, "the too much" is even more
dangerous than "the too little"?

I, and those who think as I do, would see the letter whether of
science or of Christianity made less of, and the spirit more.
Slowly, but very slowly--far, as it seems to our impatience, too
slowly--things move in this direction.  See how even the Church of
Rome, and indeed all churches, are dropping miracles that they once
held proper objects of faith and adoration.  The Sacro Monte is now
singularly free from all that we Protestants are apt to call

The miracles and graces so freely dealt in by Fassola and Torrotti
find no place in the more recent handbooks.  The Ex Votos and images
in wax and silver with which each chapel formerly abounded have long
disappeared, and the sacred drama is told with almost as close an
adherence to the facts recorded in the Gospels, as though the whole
had been done by Protestant workmen.  Where is the impress of
Christ's footprint now? carted away or thrown into a lumber room as a
child's toy that has been outgrown--so surely as has been often said
do the famous words "E pur si muove" apply to the Church herself, as
well as to that world whose movement she so strenuously denied.

The same thing is happening here among ourselves.  As the good
churchmen at Varallo have thrown away their Flemish dancer, their
footprint of the Saviour, and their Virgins that box thieves' ears
and persist in turning round and smiling even after they have been
asked not to do so, so we, by the mouths of our Bishops, are flinging
away our Genesis, our Exodus, and I know not how much more.  In the
Nineteenth Century for last December the Bishop of Carlisle says that
the account of Creation given in the Book of Genesis "does not
pretend to be historical in any ordinary sense"--or, in other words,
that it does not pretend to be historical, or true, at all.  Surely
this is rather a startling jettison.  The Bishop goes on to say that
"the account of the flood is a very precious tradition full of
valuable teaching," and is, he doubts not, a record of some great
event that actually occurred; "but," he continues, "I confess that
until Bishop Colenso brought his arithmetic to bear upon it and some
other portions of Old Testament history, I was quite [why "quite?"]
under the impression that the common sense of Christians abstained
from criticising this ancient record by the canons applicable to
ordinary history."  This was not my own impression, but the Bishop's
is doubtless more accurate.  If things, however, go on at this rate,
a hundred years hence we shall have a Bishop writing to the Twentieth
Century that till X, Y or Z brought their canons of historical
criticism to bear on the Resurrection itself, he was "quite" under
the impression that the common sense of Christians abstained from
criticising this ancient record by the canons applicable to ordinary
history.  The Bishop appeals, and rightly, to common sense.  This is
of all courts the safest and rightest to abide by, but it must not be
forgotten that the common sense of one generation is not that of the
next, and that the modification with which common sense descends
cannot be effected, however gently we may try to do so, without some
disturbance of the pre-existing common sense, and some reversal of
its decrees.

That the letter of the coming faith will be greatly truer than that
of the many that have preceded it I for one do not believe.  Let us
have no more "Lo heres" and "Lo theres" in this respect.  I would as
soon have a winking Madonna or a forged decretal, as the doubtful
experiments or garbled articles which the high priests of modern
science are applauded with one voice for trying to palm off upon
their devotees; and I should look as hopefully for good result from a
new monastery, as from a new school of art, college of music, or
scientific institution.  Whatever faith or science the world at large
bows down to will in its letter be tainted with the world that
worships it.  Whoever clings to the spirit that underlies all the
science obtaining among civilised peoples will assuredly find that he
cannot serve God and Mammon.  The true Christ ever brings a sword on
earth as well as peace, and if he maketh men to be of one mind in an
house, he divideth a house no less surely.  The way will be straight
in the future as in the past.  All that can be hoped for is that it
may perhaps become a trifle more easy through the work of the just
men made perfect through suffering that have gone before, and that he
who in bygone ages would have been burnt will now be only scouted.

I have in the last few foregoing pages been trenching on somewhat
dangerous ground, but who can leave such a work as the Sacro Monte
without being led to trench on this ground, and who that trenches
upon it can fail to better understand the lesson of the Sacro Monte
itself?  I am aware, however, that I have said enough if not too
much, and will return to the note struck at the beginning of my work-
-namely, that I have endeavoured to stimulate study of the great
works on the Sacro Monte rather than to write the full account of
them which their importance merits.  At the same time I must admit
that I have had great advantages.  Not one single previous writer had
ever seen an earlier work than that of Fassola, published in 1670
[1], whereas I have had before me one that appeared in 1586 [7].  I
had written the greater part of my book before last Christmas, and
going out to Varallo at the end of December to verify and reconsider
it on the spot, found myself forced over and over again to alter what
I had written, in consequence of the new light given me by the 1586
[7] and 1590 [1] editions of Caccia.  It is with profound regret that
though I have continued to search for the 1565 and 1576 editions up
to the very last moment that these sheets leave my hands, my search
has been fruitless.

Over and above the advantage of having had even the later Caccia
before me, I have seen Cav. Aless. Godio's "Cronaca di Crea," which
no previous writer had done, inasmuch as this work has been only very
lately published.  Moreover, when I was at Varallo, it being known
that I was writing on the Sacro Monte, every one helped me, and so
many gave me such important and interesting information that I found
my labour a very light and pleasant one.  Especially must I
acknowledge my profound obligations to Signor Dionigi Negri, town
clerk of Varallo, to Signor Galloni the present director of the Sacro
Monte, to Cav. Prof. Antonini and his son, Signori Arienta and
Tonetti, and to many other kind friends whom if I were to begin to
name I must name half the town of Varallo.  With such advantages I am
well aware that the work should be greatly better than it is; if,
however, it shall prove that I have succeeded in calling the
attention of abler writers to Varallo, and if these find the present
work of any, however small, assistance to them, I shall hold that I
have been justified in publishing it.  In the full hope that this may
turn out to be the case, I now leave the book to the generous
consideration and forbearance of the reader.


{1}  "Uomini e Fatti," &c., p. 65, &c.

{2}  "Uomini e fatti," p. 83.

{3}  Fassola, p. 112.

{4}  These chapels are grouped together in the 1586 edition as "la
nativita di N.S. nel Presepio," but they are separated, as they
doubtless should have been earlier, in the edition of 1590 [1591].

{5}  English translation of the "Life of St. Charles Borromeo," with
preface by Cardinal Manning.  Burns & Oates, London and New York,
1884, vol. ii. p. 47.

{6}  "Storia a Guida," ed. 1857, Varallo, p. 68.

{7}  In the register of the houses in Varallo, taken in 1536, his
house is thus described--"Magister Gaudentius pictor fqm Magistri
Franchini Vallis Ugiae habitator Varalli, tabet sedimen unum cum domo
una magna plodata et alia contigua peleis, et curte ante, et curteto
ad plateam putei, cui cohoeret Franciscus Draghettus sive de Boglia
et strata, et soror Catarina de Pioldo."  (See Signor Tonetti's

{8}  Parma, 1823.

{9}  Munich, 1841.

{10}  Torino-Tipografia S. Giuseppe--Collegio degli Artigianelli
Corso Palestro, No. 14.  1887.

{11}  See Signor Galloni's first and tenth notes, pp. 175 and 180.

{12}  Their words run thus;--"Il volto di quella Vergine Maria mirava
altre volte al Bambino Giesu, ma dall' anno, il giorno, ed hora, che
fu creato Pontefice Innocenzo X. al suono di Campane miracolosamente
si volto alli Visitanti.  Dicono alcuni, che prima ancora staua
riuoltata al Popolo, e che accommodata, non accorgendosi del miracolo
in detto giorno, poi lo diede a conoscere."  Fassola, p. 86.

"Si dice che la Vergine mirava il Bambino, e quando si sonarono le
campane per l'esaltazione d'Innocenzio X. torno il volto ai
Visitanti, che racconciata nuovamente voltollo al popolo come
invitante."  Torrotti, p. 70.

{13}  The projected Palazzo di Pilato blocks.

{14}  A famous model of some five-and-twenty years ago.

End of the Project Gutenberg eText Ex Voto